U.K. Surgeon Preparing for Simultaneous Face, Hand Transplant

On the heels of the first full face transplant in the U.S., one of the leading surgeons in the U.K. has announced that he’s preparing to carry out a the world’s second simultaneous face and hand transplant, the Telegraph reported.

Dr. Peter Butler, director of surgery and trauma at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, was given the green light to perform a full face transplant in 2006, but he’s still waiting for a suitable donor match. In the meantime, a group of patients are undergoing psychological testing to see if they’re good candidates for the combined transplant – and it’s being reported that some of them may include badly injured British soldiers.

Butler’s team is working with surgeons in Birmingham, Austria and in Pittsburgh, Pa., to share information about how to proceed with the transplant.

“We have a number of patients that we have seen with combined face and hand injuries and a number are potentially going to be done,” Butler said. “Some 60 hand transplants have been carried out worldwide but more work is needed to ensure the patients are suitable.”

Some of the patients currently being considered include burn victims, people who have suffered serious infections and those who’ve been injured in explosions.

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So far, there have been only about a dozen face transplants and even fewer double hand transplants.

In April 2009, surgeons in France performed the world's first simultaneous partial-face and double-hand transplant on a 30-year-old burn victim. He died of a heart attack a few months later.

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