Sep 17, 2009 | 11
A 60-year-old Mississippi woman who had been blind for nine years can now see again after doctors implanted one of her teeth into her eye—the first time the surgery had been performed in the U.S. Two weeks after several sessions of intensive surgery, she now has 20/70 vision in one of her eyes, which is predicted to continue improving as it heals.
In 2000, Sharon Thornton was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare disease that can destroy skin—and corneal—cells. Even after she recovered from the disease, brought on by a reaction to her medication, her corneas—the surface of the eye—were too scarred to allow her to see, or obtain a transplant.
After stem cell treatment in 2003 failed to restore her vision, doctors went looking for alternatives. Victor Perez, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Miami Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, decided to attempt modified osteo-odonto keratoprosthesis (MOOKP), what he called a procedure "of last resort," in a prepared statement.
Jul 14, 2009 | 8
Fourteen years after a risky operation to save the life of an infant suffering heart failure, a team of U.K. doctors is claiming success. Hannah Clark (now aged 16)—who as a baby had a donor heart grafted onto her own—has made a full recovery, three years after the transplanted organ was removed, the doctors claim in an article published online today by The Lancet.
The "full recovery" part comes from the fact that Clark no longer needs to take immunosuppression medication that caused her to suffer from a type of cancer called Epstein-Barr-virus-associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (EBV PTLD), report the authors, who include Victor Tsang, a pediatric cardiac surgery specialist, and Magdi Yacoub, a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Imperial College London (both led the surgery in February 2006).
May 6, 2009
A 57-year-old man from Alberta, Georgia has become the first person in the U.S. to receive a double hand transplant. After undergoing a ten-hour surgery that ended Monday night, the patient, Jeff Kepner, is in critical but stable condition, according to Amy Dugas Rose, a spokesperson for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UMPC), where team of ten surgeons carried out the operation.
Kepner, who lost both hands and feet to a bacterial infection a decade ago, will need intense physical therapy before he is able to use his hands effectively, according to Rose.
Kepner is reportedly receiving a bone marrow transplant from the donor sometime in the next few days, which is part of a special protocol developed at UMPC that aims to minimize the amount of anti-rejection drugs transplant recipients need to take. These drugs, which suppress the immune system, help prevent the body from attacking the transplanted tissue, but they also increase susceptibility to infections and cancer and may eventually lead to kidney failure, says Kadiyala Ravindra, a transplant surgeon at the University of Louisville in Kentucky who has been involved in single hand transplants at Louisville's Jewish Hospital. The idea behind the bone marrow graft, which is not standard in these types of surgeries, is to reeducate the immune system to recognize the transplanted tissue as its own, he explains.
Apr 3, 2009 | 3
Even though heart attacks may not be deadly, they can leave your ticker damaged. The reason: they occur when blood flow to a section of heart muscle becomes blocked. If the flow of blood isn't restored quickly, a section of the heart muscle becomes damaged from the lack of oxygen and begins to die, weakening its ability to pump blood.
Researchers have long wondered whether such damage could be reversed, that is, whether hobbled heart muscle cells could regenerate — potentially affecting the ability of scientists to hatch ways to repopulate damaged heart tissue. A study in Science today confirms that some heart muscle cells do, in fact, regenerate slowly over the course of a person's lifetime. Scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden report that in early adulthood, we're continually renewing about 1 percent of our heart cells a year; that regeneration slows down, but it still occurs in old age, with a little less than half of 1 percent of cells regenerating at age 75. All told, we've renewed about 40 percent of our heart cells by age 70, neuroscientist Jonas Frisén told Science in a podcast.
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