November 16, 2010

Doctors In Spain To Carry Out World’s First Leg Transplant

Spain's health ministry said Tuesday that doctors are looking for a suitable match from a dead donor to carry out the world's first leg transplant.

A spokeswoman said that last May, the ministry's transplant commission authorized Valencia's Hospital de la Fe to carry out the procedure, which will involve both legs.

She said the operation would be the first leg transplant in the world and could offer hope to millions of amputees and injured war veterans.

"They are looking for a suitable donor. We still don't know the date, it could be in two months or six months, it all depends on when an adequate donor is found," the spokeswoman said.

The recipient will be a man who had both legs amputated above the knee after an accident.  He faces life in a wheelchair because prosthetic limbs are not a suitable option for him.

The health ministry said in a statement that the transplant commission has also authorized the hospital to carry out Spain's fourth face transplant.

It said the announcement was made at an international conference on organ transplant in Madrid.

According to the statement, "transplants of hands, arms or faces from dead people were science fiction just a decade ago and today they are a splendid reality at our hospitals," the director of Spain's National Organization of Transplants, Rafael Matesanz, said at the conference.

Spain's health ministry said that of the 13 face transplants carried out so far around the world, seven were carried out in France, three in Spain, two in the U.S. and one in China.

Doctors at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital carried out the world's first full face transplant in March this year.  The patient could not swallow, breath or talk normally due to his injuries from a shooting accident.

Doctor Pedro Cavadas, who has pioneered several transplant surgeries, will carry out both the double leg transplant and fourth face transplant.