Entries in Transplant (33)


Woman Who Lost Her Hands and Feet Receives Double Hand Transplant

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A young woman who lost her hands and feet to an infection about four years ago is recuperating after undergoing a double hand transplant.

“The patient is doing extremely well,” said Dr. L. Scott Levin, who led the team of doctors. “She’s progressing very well through rehab and she has gained significant independence with her gestures. She’s able to wipe a tear and scratch her nose. These are huge milestones.”

The woman, described only as being in her late 20s, has asked to remain anonymous while she recovers.

University of Pennsylvania doctors performed the double hand transplant in September, making her one of only 60 people in the world who has received such state-of-the-art transplantation.

“Our main hope with transplants like this one is that the hands will, over time, function better than prostheses,” said Levin, director of the Penn Hand Transplant Program who was aided in the operation by 12 surgeons.  

During the nearly 12-hour surgery, doctors connected the forearm bones with steel plates. Veins and arteries were connected, and muscles and tendons were then stitched together before skin was then closed, ABC News’ Philadelphia affiliate, WPVI-TV, reported.

Matching a patient for a hand transplant can be quite difficult, Levin told ABC News.  The skin type, age, gender and size of the hands and arms must be the correct match in order for doctors to move forward with the procedure. Doctors also must evaluate the will of the patient, family and social support, emotional stability and understanding the immunosuppression that results after transplants.

Transplant patients take immunosuppressants to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new limb or organ. While the new body part is usually worth the post-procedure risks, a new study from the National Cancer Institute found that transplant recipients are at double the risk of getting cancer than the general population.

It was not immediately known whether the patient could also be a candidate for a double foot transplant.

“The first kidney transplant was performed in 1954 and here we are, 57 years later, transplanting hands and arms and faces and legs,” said Levin. “I think we’re on the verge of an entirely new dimension of transplantation. It’s really the frontier of surgical technology.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Hands for Massachusetts Man

Bananastock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A 65-year-old Massachusetts man became the latest patient to receive a new pair of hands last week through a transplant operation, Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital said Friday.

The Boston Globe reports that Richard Mangino of Revere, Mass., underwent a 12-hour operation last week in which a transplant team gave him the forearms and hands of an anonymous donor. Mangino had his own lower arms amputated along with his lower legs when a blood infection threatened his life in 2002.

Mangino’s operation was the third successful double-hand transplant procedure in the country so far. Last year, Chris Pollock of Pennsylvania, who had lost both hands in a farming accident, appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to discuss the double-hand transplant he received at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The first double-hand transplant recipient was Jeff Kepner of Georgia, whose May 2009 surgery was also performed at UPMC.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital made headlines recently for face transplant surgeries performed there. In June, the hospital announced that it had succeeded in transplanting a face on 57-year-old Charla Nash, who had lost much of her face and both her hands when a chimpanzee attacked her. The doctors also attempted a double-hand transplant, but pneumonia and kidney failure following the surgery hampered circulation, and the transplanted hands had to be removed.

Last April, the hospital announced that it had performed a face transplant n on Mitch Hunter, 30, of Indiana, whose face had been disfigured in a 2001 accident. Surgeons there also gave 25-year-old Dallas Wiens of Fort Worth, Texas, a new face. Wiens, a construction worker, had endured severe burns to his head years before when the boom lift he was operating drifted into a nearby power line.

The hospital has also performed a partial face transplant on a man who fell face first onto an electrified subway rail.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Alabama Girl Gets New Heart after Misdiagnosis

Courtesy Dawn Underwood(MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala.) -- Looking at young Greer Underwood today, no one would never guess that a few months ago she was in a hospital in critical condition, on a waiting list for a new heart.

The 10-year-old Muscle Shoals, Alabama youngster might not be alive today had her parents not pushed to get a second opinion for her breathing problems that had been diagnosed as a simple sinus infection.

Now, looking back over the many medical trials Greer underwent in the past seven months -- a severe stroke, a final (correct) diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, the implantation of an experimental device to pump her heart and ultimately a full heart transplant -- her parents are thankful that the many odds stacked against their daughter turned in her favor.

"I think Greer is proof that God is still active and alive in our lives today," says Greer's mother, Dawn Underwood.  "She's doing so great now, and she's just been super-brave through all of this.  That is the personality the Lord gave her...I guess he knew she would have to go through so much."

Last February, however, Greer's prospects did not look so promising.  Her overall weakness, dry cough and shortness of breath was first diagnosed as a simple sinus infection by her pediatrician, then pneumonia by a local hospital.  But she wasn't responding to any of the treatments for these diagnoses, and was getting worse.  Greer's parents brought her back to the hospital emergency room soon after she began vomiting.

"We told them it's not pneumonia and something has to be done," Underwood says.

What started as relatively benign respiratory symptoms became nearly fatal three to four days later.  Greer was then flown to Children's Hospital in Birmingham, where doctors saw that Greer needed a pediatric cardiology team, and transferred her to the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital.

Within 10 minutes of arriving at UAB, Greer suffered a massive stroke.

Though Underwood says doctors didn't give the family "much hope of taking her home," Greer made steady progress.  Doctors implanted an experimental heartware device called an LVAD -- a left ventricular assist device -- which allowed Greer to regain enough strength to qualify for a heart transplant.

Greer's prospects were touch and go for a few months, but on Mother's Day 2011, her family got the call: a transplant heart had become available.

Within a week of the transplant, Greer was back at home.  She still has some speech difficulties and weakness on her right side from the stroke, for which she's receiving rehab, but is healing rapidly and has even re-enrolled in dance classes for the fall, her mother says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First Double Leg Transplant Performed in Spain

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(VALENCIA, Spain) -- In what could turn out to be a major breakthrough for limb amputees, Spanish surgeons have performed the first double-leg transplant on a man who had lost both legs above the knees in an accident.

According to Dr. Pedro Cavadas of La Fe Hospital in Valencia, doctors will find out before long if the legs are rejected.  Otherwise, it will take a month until they know if the transplant was successful.

Cavadas said that after a suitable cadaver donor was found, his team performed the surgery last Sunday on the unidentified patient.  It took 14 hours to connect bones, nerves and tissues.

Prior to the decision to perform a double leg transplant, doctors tried fitting the patient with artificial legs but the procedure didn't take because the man didn't have enough of his own limbs to accommodate the prostheses.

Cavadas has had experience with delicate transplants before, having performed Spain's first face transplant, which included the first new tongue and jaw given to any patient in the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man Cancer-Free after Lab-Grown Windpipe Transplant

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(STOCKHOLM, Sweden) -- Doctors in Sweden have saved the life of a man who was diagnosed with cancer of the windpipe by replacing the bad organ with a good one made in a lab.

The procedure, performed less than a month ago at Karolinska University Hospital, proved to be so successful that the man is now considered cancer-free and is leaving the hospital on Friday.

Paolo Macchiarini, who carried out the windpipe transplant, admitted that before the operation the patient "was condemned to die."

If the man continues on the road to good health, it would mark a significant accomplishment in the field of regenerative medicine.  It's especially promising for those suffering from tracheal cancer or other diseases affecting the windpipe.

While the patient in Sweden was in critical condition, the decision was made to manufacture an artificial windpipe rather than wait for a suitable one from a cadaver.

The reason the transplant worked and why the new windpipe wasn't rejected was because scientists used cells from the patient to seed the organ.

They cautioned that this procedure may not be immediately effective with other complex organs such as the heart, which has thicker tissue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First US Funny Bone Transplant Saves Girl from Amputation

Courtesy Heidi Kaldenberg(WOODWARD, Iowa) -- Young Josalyn Kaldenberg and her bionic funny bone have everyone smiling.

This April, the Iowa 8-year-old became the first kid in the U.S. to receive an expandable humerus bone replacement -- a landmark procedure that saved her arm from amputation.

Just a few months ago, it seemed inevitable that Kaldenberg would lose her arm to the cancer that had invaded the bones of her upper arm, elbow, and shoulder.  Thanks to the first-of-its-kind funny bone replacement, however, she is now back coloring, writing, and playing the piano at her Woodward, Iowa home.

"I like my new arm a lot," says Kaldenberg, who is fiercely proud of the 12-inch scar that now graces her upper arm.

The only downside, the family jokes, is that Josalyn has to get patted down at the airport as her bionic bone sets off the metal detectors.

Josalyn's new funny bone has prompted plenty of jokes, but the laughter comes more from relief than the quality of the punchline.  The six months before the surgery was a scary time for Kaldenberg and her parents as they were days away from doctors having to amputate the arm at the shoulder.

The home schooled third grader was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in November, a rare bone cancer that affects only a few hundred kids each year.

The cancerous tumor takes over the long bones of the arms or legs, destroying the bone tissue and spreading throughout the body.  Decades ago, the only treatment was swift amputation of the limb, but even then the prognosis was poor.  With a combination of chemotherapy and artificial or cadaver bone transplant, saving the limbs later became possible, but it was rare in children, whose bones are still growing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Daughter to Undergo Transplant of Mom's Womb

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Sara Ottoson, 25, of Stockholm, Germany, could be the first woman to give birth to a baby using the same womb in which she was conceived and carried to term.

Ottoson, who was born without a uterus, will undergo an experimental procedure to have her mother's uterus transplanted into her, according to a BBC News report.

"It's the only way my daughter can have a child by herself," Eva Ottoson, Sara's 56-year-old mother, told BBC News.  Eva Ottoson agreed to donate her uterus in hopes that her daughter could one day give birth.

Sara Ottoson has Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by an undeveloped or absent vagina, and an absent uterus.  The syndrome affects one out of nearly 5,000 births, according to the Magic Foundation.

Women who live with the syndrome generally adopt or undergo surrogacy to start a family.

"If it doesn't work, she's still going to adopt," said Eva Ottoson.

Researchers from Sweden approached the mother and daughter about undergoing the experimental procedure, she said.

Ottoson admitted she initially thought the procedure was bizarre.  But now, she and her daughter both see it as they would any other organ transplant.

While this is not the first attempt at a human uterus transplant, none have resulted in successful pregnancies.

"It'll be a challenge," said Dr. Charles Coddington, chairman of reproductive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who is not involved in the Ottosons' case.  "It seems like even the animal techniques have not been totally worked out."

One of the most challenging parts of the procedure is connecting the tiny blood vessels of the ovary to the newly transplanted uterus, said Coddington.

Coddington said Eva Ottoson's age, and the age of her uterus, would not put her daughter at a higher risk for complications from the transplant.  But if Sara Ottoson were to carry the pregnancy to term, it's likely she would undergo a caesarean section.

The Ottosons are expected to undergo the transplant in spring 2012. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Second-Ever Voice Box Transplant Recipient Talks to ABC News

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DAVIS, Calif.) -- Thanks to a rare and difficult transplant surgery, the once voiceless Brenda Jensen has been given a new larynx, a new voice and a new lease on life.

When an accident with a ventilation tube left Jensen's vocal chords paralyzed 12 years ago, she thought she never would be able to speak again on her own.

With the aid of a mechanical larynx that she would hold to her throat, she could communicate. But the voice was robotic and her paralyzed voice box necessitated that she keep a permanent breathing tube in her throat that prevented her from ever going underwater or even taking a shower.

"The surgery had a lot of risk," she said. "I could have lost feeling in my face, movement in my eyes. I could have been not able to eat or swallow again. But I wanted to talk again and get the [tube] out of my neck."

After the 18-hour operation in October that replaced her larynx, trachea, and thyroid gland, Jensen said she now is "talking up a storm" and looking forward to the last stage in the process when the tube in her throat can be removed.

The procedure, which was done at the UC Davis Medical Center in California, is one of the most complex transplantations because surgeons must reconnect not only blood vessels but microscopic nerves needed for the coordinated movements of breathing, swallowing and speaking.

Now, three months later, Jensen said her "voice improves every day."

"It's been a long road and a rough road, but every minute of it was worth it," she said. "Now when I talk, my friends who know me from way back say they can hear me in there. I heard myself on a recording the other day and I was amazed."

"We are absolutely delighted with the results of this extraordinary case," Dr. Gregory Farwell, lead surgeon for the transplant, said in a press release.

Jensen, who is also a kidney-pancreas transplant recipient, is the second patient to ever receive a larynx transplant. The first was performed at the Cleveland Clinic in 1998 on Tim Heidler, then 40.

The procedure is so rare not only because of the difficulty involved, but because it requires the patient to be on a lifetime of immuno-suppressing drugs to prevent the rejection of the donor tissue. Because Jensen is already on these meds for her donor kidney and pancreas, she was a uniquely apt candidate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Transplant Surgeons Change Practices after Rare HIV Transmission

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Surgeons changed their surgical practices after reports of a rare, high-profile case of HIV and hepatitis-C transmission through organ transplant surfaced, reports MedPage Today.  In 2007, four organ recipients contracted both HIV and hepatitis-C from a single high-risk donor despite negative antibody tests done before the procedures.

Researchers surveyed more than 400 transplant surgeons and found that nearly one-third of surgeons changed their procedures for fear of legal or regulatory consequences, said the report published in Archives of Surgery.  The most common change was the avoidance altogether of high-risk donors, rather than instituting better ways of detecting viruses before transplant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Dead Since Arizona Medicaid Program Slashed Transplant Coverage

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Two Arizona Medicaid recipients denied potentially life-saving organ transplants have died, even as Arizona doctors, transplant survivors and some lawmakers push to restore health care benefits that were slashed last fall.

On Oct. 1, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System stopped paying for seven types of transplants that the state's GOP governor, Jan Brewer, and GOP-led legislature said they could no longer afford. The state faces a projected $1 billion program deficit by July 2011.

They eliminated heart transplants for non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, lung transplants, pancreatic transplants, some bone marrow transplants, and liver transplants for patients infected with hepatitis C. Arizona also restricted coverage of prosthetics, eliminated podiatric services, preventive dental services, and wellness and physical exams for adult Medicaid enrollees.

A former University of Arizona Medical Center patient waiting for a new liver died on Dec. 28 -- the second person to die since the cuts went into effect, according to Dr. Rainer Gruessner, chairman of surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson.

On Thursday, surgery department spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman confirmed that the patient, who died at another facility, "was our patient. He was on our list." She declined to identify the patient, citing medical confidentiality.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio