Indian Transplant Newsletter. Vol.20 Issue No.61. November 2020 - February 2021

World's first successful face and double hand transplant performed in USA


Joe DiMeo, 22, received a rare face and double hand transplant on 12 August 2020 at NYU Langone Health, USA. This is the world's first such successful transplant. Simultaneous face and double hand transplants are extremely rare and have only been tried twice before. The first attempt was in 2009 on a patient in Paris who died about a month later from complications. Two years later, Boston doctors tried it again on a woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee, but ultimately had to remove the transplanted hands days later.

In 2018, DiMeo was severely burned in a car accident and spent months in a medically induced coma. He underwent 20 reconstructive surgeries and multiple skin grafts to treat his extensive (80% total body surface area) third-degree burns. But it became clear that conventional surgeries could not help DiMeo regain full vision or use of his hands. His medical team then began preparing for this rare transplant in early 2019. They knew that finding a matching donor was going to be difficult and the COVID-19 pandemic made the task even more arduous. Finally, in August 2020, a donor was identified in Delaware through the Gift of Life Donor Program, the organ procurement organization covering that region. Richard D. Hasz Jr., Vice president of clinical services, Gift of Life Donor Program said, “This transplant was possible because a selfless family said yes to this unique donation. The donor's mother shares that she is proud and comforted that her son was able to help another young man while also saving and healing others through organ and tissue donation. She says her son will always be her angel.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguezled the medical team of more than 140 healthcare professionals who operated on DiMeo. They transplanted both hands to the mid-forearm, including the radius and ulna, three nerves, six blood vessels and 21 tendons. They also transplanted a full face, including the forehead, eyebrows, nose, eyelids, lips, both ears and underlying facial bones in a 23-hour procedure. DiMeo is on a novel immunosuppression strategy to prevent transplant rejection, as well as intensive rehabilitation that includes physical, occupational and speech therapy. DiMeo, wholives with his parents, can now dress and feed himself. At a press conference in February2021, he spoke about being able to play with his dog, play pool, and that he was eager to get back to work.


How to cite this article:
- Navin S, Shroff S. World's first successful face and double hand transplant performed in USA. Indian Transplant Newsletter. Vol.20 Issue No.61. November 2020 - February 2021

How to cite this URL:
- Navin S, Shroff S. World's first successful face and double hand transplant performed in USA. Indian Transplant Newsletter. Vol.20 Issue No.61. November 2020 - February 2021. Available at:
https://www.itnnews.co.in/indian-transplant-newsletter/issue61/Worlds-first-successful-face-and-double-hand-transplant-performed-in-USA-1079.htm

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  • Keywords: face and double hand transplant, NYU Langone Health- USA, multiple skin grafts, COVID-19 pandemic, Gift of Life Donor Program, novelimmunosuppression strategy