Finding a Face Transplant Patient and Donor

Determining Patient Eligibility

There are a significant number of factors to consider when determining who would be an appropriate candidate for a face transplant. First and foremost, we are looking for candidates whose facial appearance cannot be easily restored by using traditional plastic surgery techniques. Listed below are some of the other eligibility factors that we consider:

  • All patients must be at least 18 years of age.
  • We are seeking candidates who have lost a major part of their face, such as the nose or the lips, or who have lost at least 25% of their facial tissue.
  • Patients must be willing to take immunosuppressants – drugs that help prevent rejection of the transplant - for the rest of their lives.
  • Women who are pregnant must wait until at least six weeks after the completion of their pregnancy before a transplant can be considered.

For more information about what we’re looking for in a face transplant candidate, please review our Face Transplant Patient Guide.

Finding a Match

There are also a lot of factors to consider when looking for an appropriate face transplant donor, and we work closely with the New England Organ Bank (NEOB) to help us with this challenging search. Here are just a few of the characteristics that we evaluate:

  • There is a limit to the age discrepancy between the recipient and the donor. The donor can be as much as 20 years younger to as much as 10 years older than the recipient.
  • Skin color and texture should be similar to that of the donor.
  • Time is of the essence when recovering facial tissue from a donor, so the donor must be located within a four-hour travel radius of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
  • The donor's family must provide consent. Self consent to organ and tissue donation, such as can be done on a motor vehicle license application, does not apply to face tissue donation.

For more details about how what we look for in a face transplant donor, please review our Face Transplant Patient Guide.

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