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First Skull-Scalp Transplant From Human Donor
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First Skull-Scalp Transplant From Human Donor

Texas doctors have conducted the world’s first partial skull and scalp transplant to help a man who suffered a large head wound from cancer treatment, opening a new frontier in transplant surgery.
Doctors from Houston Methodist Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center performed the operation two weeks ago.
The recipient Jim Boysen, a 55-year-old software developer was expected to leave the hospital Thursday with a new kidney and pancreas along with the scalp and skull grafts.
He said he was stunned at how well doctors matched him to a donor with similar skin and hair coloring.
“It’s kind of shocking, really, how good they got it. I will have way more hair than when I was 21,” Boysen joked in an interview with the Associated Press.
Last year, doctors in the Netherlands said they replaced most of a woman’s skull with a 3-D printed plastic one. The Texas operation is thought to be the first skull-scalp transplant from a human donor, as opposed to an artificial implant or a simple bone graft.
Boysen had a kidney-pancreas transplant in 1992 to treat diabetes he has had since age 5 and has been on drugs to prevent organ rejection. The immune suppression drugs raise the risk of cancer, and he developed a rare type leiomyosarcoma.
It can affect many types of smooth muscles but in his case, it was the ones under the scalp that make your hair stand on end when something gives you the creeps.
Radiation therapy for the cancer destroyed part of his head, immune suppression drugs kept his body from repairing the damage, and his transplanted organs were starting to fail “a perfect storm that made the wound not heal,” Boysen said.
Yet doctors could not perform a new kidney-pancreas transplant as long as he had an open wound. That’s when Dr. Jesse Selber, a reconstructive plastic surgeon at MD Anderson, thought of giving him a new partial skull and scalp at the same time as new organs as a solution to all of his problems.
Houston Methodist, which has transplant expertise, partnered on the venture. It took 18 months for the organ-procurement organization, LifeGift, to find the right donor, who provided all organs for Boysen and was not identified.
Boysen’s wound extended through his skull to his brain, Selber said.

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