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World's First Successful Face, Double Hand Transplant Performed On 22-year-old

The New Jersey resident, DiMeo, waited patiently for months until doctors found a viable donor to perform world's first-ever face and double hand transplant.


A 22-year-old man became the recipient of the world’s first successful face and double hand transplant, following a car wreck that caused 80 percent of his skin third-degree burns. Surgeons performed the complicated procedure on Joe DiMeo that helped him “regain independence,” after a 2018 accident caused his body extreme adversities, according to several reports. The New Jersey resident, waited patiently for months until doctors found a viable donor to perform the surgery, which came with the risks of severe illness or vascular complications. In the 23 hours long procedure, surgeons inserted two bones, 21 tendons, five veins, two major arteries, and three major nerves to transplant the donor's hands and face on DiMeo.  

Post his successful operation, the plastic surgeon Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez told the US broadcasters that he felt ‘elated’ seeing DiMeo’s complete new face and two arms. The 22-year-old was administered reconstructive plastic surgery at NYU Langone Hospital in New York City. The procedure was performed amid the surge of the COVID-19, which caused Rodriguez to worry about the health of his patient. In an interview with ABC, the world-renowned plastic surgeon said that his team grew conscious about using in-demand personal protective equipment (PPE) during rehearsal surgeries, and therefore they began to recycle their own PPE in the simulation lab. 

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[Joe DiMeo poses for a portrait, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 at NYU Langone Health in New York, six months after an extremely rare double hand and face transplant. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]

Operation conducted on Aug. 12, 2020

Further, doctors ensured DiMeo’s negative COVID-19 test, and of his donor, Cameron Underwood, a California man who underwent a face transplant at NYU Langone. The latter had suffered gunshot wounds in June 2016 and had undergone the procedure. Meanwhile, speaking to ABC, Rose DiMeo, mother of the recipient said that despite the fears, the family "wanted his [DiMeo’s] life back.” In further complications to the surgery, the doctors rejected the previously selected donor and had found a new one from Delaware, 10 months after the search.

The operation was conducted on Aug. 12, 2020, in what became the world’s first-ever successful face and double hand transplant, ever. As many as 6 surgical teams performed the surgery in NYU Langone’s Kimmel Pavilion, transplanting the patient’s hands, his mid-forearm, entire face. The portion reconstructed Dimeo’s forehead, eyebrows, ears, nose, eyelids, lips, and underlying skull, cheek, nasal, and chin bone segments. DiMeo will now be on lifelong medications to maintain the functions of his new face. 

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