Pentagon Push Gives Face Transplants a Major Lift
It’s one of the most extreme surgical procedures an individual could possibly undergo: Having his or her entire face, from bone to blood vessels to muscle, reconstructed using the donated face of another person.
Face transplants are already a reality. And now, those incredible procedures are poised to become much more common, largely thanks to a Pentagon research push that’s catalyzed a major new Face Transplantation Program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Since 2008, the military has spent upward of $250 million on research into cutting-edge procedures, including face transplants and regenerative medicine, meant to more effectively treat wounded veterans.
UCLA’s new program, which is expected to perform its first transplantation within the year, is particularly geared toward injured veterans (though civilians will also qualify). It’s one part of a larger UCLA collaboration with the military’s Brooke Army Medical Center, called Operation Mend, that applies avant guarde surgical procedures — including hand transplants and prosthetic ears — to help soldiers with missing limbs or ravaged body parts.
“Some service members, unfortunately, have wounds we can’t heal using conventional medicine,” Dr. Kodi Azari, chief of reconstructive transplantation at UCLA and the head of this new program, tells Danger Room. “Techniques to help with devastating facial injuries do exist. They just aren’t very good.”
Read more: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/ucla-face-transplant/