It took almost 15 hours for doctors to perform the fist skull and scalp transplant in the world. A 55-year-old James Boysen from Texas was suffering from rare form of cancer…
It took almost 15 hours for doctors to perform the fist skull and scalp transplant in the world.
A 55-year-old James Boysen from Texas was suffering from rare form of cancer. As a result of treatment, he lost a big part of head crown.
During the procedure he also got a new kidney and pancreas. The surgery took place at Houston Methodist Hospital and the Anderson Cancer Center. The patient feels great after the operation.
In 2006 James, a software developer, was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma. That was the cancer of the muscle on the scalp. Doctors chose a mixed treatment for Boysen, a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which eventually destroyed the circumjacent tissue. That made his brain really defenseless.
In such cases, to reconstruct the skull doctors tend to use skin grafts and metal plates. But Boysen’s situation was different. After kidney and pancreas transplantation he was taking immune suppressing drugs. That didn’t allow doctors to start the reconstruction.
According to Dr Jesse Selber, who supervised the Anderson team, the hole in Boysen’s head was 25 cm by 25 cm. It covered “the entire top half of the head”. He also told that the kidney and pancreas transplants had to be done at the same time.
About four years ago doctors first came with the idea to combine the operations. But, unfortunately, they had to wait for a donor.
James Boysen stayed optimistic during such tough time, saying that when he was 21 he had less hair. He also expressed his gratefulness:
I’m amazed at how great I feel and am forever grateful that I have another chance to get back to doing the things I love and be with the people I love
Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr Michael Klebu, said that the operation was really difficult for everybody. Just imagine, doctors had to transplant half of the skull and tissue to cover it. They used microbiology to connect blood vessels, which are 1/16 of an inch, under the microscope. Doctors were attaching the vessels with tiny stitches, which were half the diameter of a human hair.