“Landmark in medical science: US surgeons have achieved a groundbreaking milestone with the world’s first whole-eye transplant in a human, a significant breakthrough disclosed on Thursday.
Despite the patient not recovering vision in the transplanted eye six months post-surgery, the medical team at NYU Langone Health reports promising signs of robust health, including well-functioning blood vessels and a favorable retina.
Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, spearheading the innovative procedure alongside a partial face transplant, emphasized the unprecedented nature of this achievement, marking a monumental stride forward in the chronicles of medical history.”
“The complex transplant procedure spanned a lengthy 21-hour duration.
Initially, the US doctors aimed to include the eyeball as part of a face transplant for cosmetic enhancements, as disclosed by Rodriguez in a Zoom interview. While expressing optimism for potential vision restoration, Rodriguez clarified that the paramount objective was the successful execution of the technical operation, ensuring the survival of the transplanted eyeball.”
“Rodriguez assured that the ongoing progress will be vigilantly monitored. Currently, there is no communication between the transplanted eye and the brain through the optic nerve.
In an innovative effort to facilitate the healing of the connection between the donor and recipient optic nerves, surgeons adopted a groundbreaking approach.
They harvested adult stem cells from the donor’s bone marrow and injected them into the optic nerve during the transplant, with the aim of replacing damaged cells and protecting the nerve.
“According to Rodriguez, the transplantation of a viable eye globe opens up a myriad of new possibilities, even if sight is not restored in this specific case.”
“Concurrently, multiple research teams are investigating alternative methods to establish connections between nerve networks in the brain and sightless eyes, including the use of electrodes, with the goal of restoring vision, as explained by Rodriguez.
“He expressed optimism about potential collaboration with scientists exploring diverse approaches to restore vision or images to the visual cortex, stating, ‘If we can collaborate with other scientists working on different methods to restore vision or images to the visual cortex, I believe we are one step closer.'”
“James, who maintained vision in his right eye, was well aware of the potential outcome for the transplanted eye. He revealed that the US doctors never expected success, and he acknowledged this from the beginning.
“Despite the absence of the anticipated vision restoration, James upheld a positive perspective, stating, ‘I told them, ‘even if I can’t see… maybe at least you all can learn something to help the next person.’ That’s how you get started,’ he explained. ‘Hopefully, this opens up a new path.’
“Rodriguez noted that there is a possibility James could still regain sight in the transplanted eye.
“Without making conclusive statements about the outcome, Rodriguez remarked, ‘I don’t think anyone can assert that he will see. Likewise, they can’t assert that he will not see.’ He underscored, ‘At this juncture, we’re quite content with the results we achieved from a highly intricate and demanding operation.'”