A 32-year-old man in the United States got a new lease of life after doctors successfully performed a near-total face transplant on him. The extensive surgery that changed his life was done to improve his ability to speak, chew, breathe and smell.
At the age of 21, Andrew Sandness’s face was devastated by a gunshot wound. The duration of the surgery, which was carried out last year, was 50 hours. The surgery was done to restore his nose, upper and lower jaw, palate, teeth, cheeks, facial muscles, oral mucosa, some of the salivary glands and the facial skin.
In order to optimise the aesthetic and functional outcomes of the surgery, a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, physicians and health professionals used virtual surgical planning technology and 3D printing at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus.
Recovering in Rochester, Sandness is likely to come back to him home in eastern Wyoming this moth, the team said.
“I am absolutely amazed at the outcome so far. I am now able to chew and eat normal food, and the nerve sensation is slowly improving, too,” said Sandness.
“Andy (Sandness) has been our patient for 10 years. He has worked so hard to prepare for this, and during his entire recovery period, he has been strong, gracious and determined. Andy is an amazing person and so well-deserving of this gift,” said Samir Mardini, the surgical director at Mayo Clinic Essam and Dalal Obaid Centre for Reconstructive Transplant Surgery.
The facial transplantation removes part or all of a donor’s face and attaches it onto the patient who is receiving the transplant.
The components of the transplant may be skin, fat, muscles, nerves, tendons, cartilage and bone.
When the nerves and blood vessels are attached from the donor’s face to the recipient’s, it provides the potential (with extensive rehabilitation) for sensation, function and mobility similar to an uninjured face.
In some situations, it may allow the recipient to regain the ability to speak, chew food, avoid ongoing use of feeding tubes and regain their sense of smell.
(With PTI inputs)