Scientists Set Their Sights on First Whole-Eye Transplant.
THURSDAY, Oct. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) — In the world of 21st-century medicine, organ transplantation is nothing new.
The first kidney transplant took place in 1950, followed by the first liver transplant in 1963 and the first human heart transplant in 1967. By 2010, doctors had even managed the transplantation of a patient’s entire face.
One major organ still eludes the transplant surgeon, however: the entire human eye. But if one team of U.S. scientists has its way, that dream may become reality, too.
“Until recently, eye transplants have been considered science fiction,” said Dr. Vijay Gorantla, an associate professor of surgery in the department of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. “People said it was crazy, bonkers.”
However, “with what we now know about transplantation and, more importantly, nerve regeneration, we are finally at the point where we can have real confidence that this is something that actually can be pursued and eventually achieved,” he said.
Whole-eye transplants would be of enormous benefit for many of the 180 million blind or severely visually disabled people around the world, including nearly 3.5 million Americans, experts say.