“Just the fact that we’ve transplanted an eye is a huge step forward, something that’s been talked about for a century, but nobody’s ever done it,” said surgeon Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the operation.
Aaron James is a war veteran from the state of Arkansas who suffered a serious facial injury in 2021. While working on a high-voltage line, he touched a live wire with his face. he lost an eye, nose and part of his lips. Only bone remained on his left cheek. The discharge burned him to the bone and part of his left arm.
From the beginning, the doctors intended to transplant the eye only for “cosmetic” reasons and do not expect James to ever be able to see. The body is said to have accepted the organ and the man feels no pain or pressure.
The transplanted eye cannot communicate with the man’s brain through the optic nerve. “Even if just a small number of nerve cells grow into the brain, that would be a big achievement,” Rodriguez said. To support this, the researchers took adult stem cells from the donor’s bone marrow and inserted them into James’ optic nerve during the transplant.
He pointed out that about 1.2 million nerve fibers lead from each eye to the brain, and each connection is unique.
In addition to the eye, doctors also transplanted part of the man’s face. This in itself is also a unique procedure, of which only about 50 have been performed in the world so far. The eye and face were from the same donor, the NBC website reported.