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Donor Tissue Transplant Success Rates Are on the Rise.

As little as 10 years ago, hand transplants would not have been possible, the Los Angeles Times reported. But since 1998, when the first hand transplant was performed in France, more than 30 people worldwide have undergone similar operations. Other patients have received arms, faces and abdominal walls, in examples of composite tissue allotransplantation, or CTA, meaning multiple tissues are involved (such as skin, muscle, tendon, bone, cartilage, fat, nerves or blood vessels) and the body part comes from a brain-dead donor.

These CTA procedures have a very high success rate, though so far, only hand and abdominal wall transplants have been done in the U.S. Additional types - including the scalp, ears and genitalia - are considered possible. "We're on the frontier of this field," Dr. Gordon Lee, a plastic surgeon and director of microsurgery at Stanford Hospital, told the Times. To date, however, CTA is expensive, risky and possibly shortens the lives of those who undergo it.

Finding a suitable donor and keeping the transplant alive long enough to perform the transplant further complicate matters. But doctors are unanimous that the biggest challenge in CTA comes from immunosuppression. CTA is performed to improve the quality of life. While the results may be dramatic, a shortened life span is a serious trade-off. So scientists are looking for ways to make CTA safer. "They want to induce tolerance, trick your body into thinking the new hand is a part of you," Dr. Lee said. "That's the holy grail of transplant immunology."

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Publication:Transplant News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2008
Words:250
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