I Can See Clearly Now…US Docs Do World’s First Full Eye Transplant

SOLOVEVA ANASTASIIA / shutterstock.com
SOLOVEVA ANASTASIIA / shutterstock.com

A recent piece from People Magazine shed some light on a little covered world’s first eye transplant. Done by New York University (NYU) Langone Health, it was done as a portion of a full-face transplant. Lasting 21 hours in total, patient Aaron James of Arkansas spent 37 days in the hospital.

The need for this extensive surgery came following James accidentally making contact with a 7,200-volt power line. While his right eye was originally still functioning, they wanted to make things more cosmetically appealing for him and hoped to improve his eyesight. While things like the cornea are often done, these thin clear pieces of the eye are easy to work with.

As the Associated Press noted in their coverage of the surgery, “the whole eye — the eyeball, its blood supply and the critical optic nerve that must connect it to the brain — is considered a moonshot in the quest to cure blindness.”

Successful surgeries like this are the kind of procedure that allows a surgeon to etch their name in the history books. They are legendary in their status, and so far, this appears to be nothing short of a complete success. While their bar wasn’t high for such a surgery, perhaps it should have been.

In a release from Bruce E. Gelb, a transplant surgeon, and the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, they are pleasantly surprised at the results so far. “The progress we’ve seen with the eye is exceptional, especially considering that we have a viable cornea paired with a retina showing great blood flow five months after the procedure. This far exceeds our initial expectations, given our initial hope was that the eye would survive at least 90 days.”

Living on through allowing someone else to have full eyesight is something people have hoped to do for ages. While organ donation is an already incredibly difficult decision for many people, giving the windows to the soul over as someone passes on is incredibly difficult. The family made an incredibly hard decision, but they also are making history with this decision.