Spain seeking donor for world's first leg transplant

16th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Doctors in Spain are looking for a suitable match from a dead donor to carry out the world's first leg transplant, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry's transplant commission last May authorised Valencia's Hospital de la Fe to carry out the procedure, which will involve both legs, a spokeswoman said.

If successful, the operation would be the first leg transplant in the world, she said, and could offer hope to millions of amputees and injured war veterans.

"They are looking for a suitable donor. We still don't know the date, it could be in two months or six months, it all depends on when an adequate donor is found," the spokeswoman said.

The recipient will be an unidentified man who had both legs amputated above the knee after an accident. He faces life in a wheelchair because prosthetic limbs are not suitable for him.

The transplant commission has also authorised the hospital to carry out Spain's fourth face transplant, the health ministry said in a statement.

The announcement was made an international conference on organ transplants in Madrid, it said.

"Transplants of hands, arms or faces from dead people were science fiction just a decade ago and today they are a splendid reality at our hospitals," the director of Spain's National Organisation of Transplants, Rafael Matesanz, said at the conference, according to the statement.

Of the 13 face transplants carried out so far around the world, seven were carried out in France, three in Spain, two in the United States and one in China, according to Spain's health ministry.

In March doctors at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital carried out the world's full face transplant. The patient could not swallow, breath or talk normally due to his injuries from a shooting accident.

Both the double leg transplant and fourth face transplant will be carried out by doctor Pedro Cavadas, who has pioneered several transplant surgeries, including one in which he converted a patient's right hand into a left hand in order to move it from his paralysed right arm to his healthy left one.

© 2010 AFP

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