The world's first face transplant took place eight years ago, and this category of medical field is advancing rapidly in countries such as France, China, and in the United States. These countries have all performed face transplants with successful results in the past, and have continued to do so up to this very day. Due to the large number of successful transplants, the United States government is preparing to regulate the procedure the same way they do with normal organ transplants.
Despite the high success rate of face and hands transplants, these surgeries are rarely happening. Furthermore, donations and post transplant monitoring are largely overseen by the doctors and the hospital itself. A hospital would usually collaborate with an organ bank to search for a possible donor that would be suitable for a particular patient, from that point the hospitals would ask the next of kin for permission to go through with the procedure.
Beginning in July, this might all change as the U.S. government is finalizing certain regulations to give people the option to donate their face and their hands for those who are in need, reports the Associated Press. The procedure will be similar to how it is done with liver and heart donation, and so, on paper, it should be smooth sailing.
However, tt is not clear how the consent process might work though, since hands and faces are a complex combination of muscle, nerves and other tissues compared to a heart that comprise of just simple tissues. Furthermore, faces and hands are visible body parts, which means family members could feel some discomfort if another person is wearing the face of their loved one who passed away. This could mean that regulators would have to differ the consent process from a liver or heart donation since those organs are not visible, and family members do not have a strong attachment to them.
"The consent process for the life-saving organs should not, must not, be derailed by a consent process for a different kind of organ," said Suzanne McDiarmid of the United Network for Organ Sharing.
We're not certain how this will turn out, but it is likely many might object against it in the future once it becomes more available to the public at large. Families might not be interested in seeing a person walking around with the face of a dead loved one. It could bring back a lot of unwanted memories.