In a recent post, I discussed face, organ and limb transplants and the connection with person to person hair transplants. Unlike with organ transplants that save lives, doctors will never prescribe immunosuppressive drugs to those who are bald and want another (dead or alive) person’s hair. Immunosuppressants are deemed to be too dangerous to be justifiable for any cosmetic procedure. However, I have noticed that people on immunosuppressants rarely seem to die of related causes, especially if they are not that old. Such patients are carefully monitored and dosages are reduced at the slightest signs of any adverse symptoms. I wonder what the stats are on people dying from causes that can definitely be linked to taking immunosuppressive drugs?
First Ever Skull-Scalp Transplant
In any event, the reason for writing this post is that earlier today, it was announced that a US surgical team led by Dr. Jesse Selber has performed the world’s first ever skull and scalp transplant on a 55 year old patient named James Boysen in Texas. Even more impressive, Mr. Boysen also received a new kidney and a new pancreas during the procedure because his old ones (that were also transplants!!) were failing. Mr. Boysen has had diabetes since age 5, and got his first kidney and pancreas transplants in 1992.
Unfortunately for Mr. Boysen, it seems like the immunosuppressant drugs that he had to take since his original organ transplants in 1992 perhaps contributed to him getting a rare type of cancer called leiomyosarcoma on his scalp in 2006. Although this cancer was treated successfully, it left his scalp significantly damaged and he finally got this scalp transplant after waiting for a donor scalp for a few years.
While Mr Boysen’s perseverance in spite of so much adversity and bad luck are truly admirable; and while this yet one more miracle of modern medicine is excellent news; the most interesting part of this story to me is that Mr. Boysen thinks that the new scalp will give him more hair than he had at age 21. This means that he was extremely bald at a very young age. From his photo (see further below) with the new scalp, it seems like the hair on the donor scalp has been shaved, but will grow in the coming months. It will be very interesting to see what Mr. Boysen looks like in another 6 months.
Here is the BBC story of this extraordinary development, and I pasted the photo from there below. My favorite version of this story with a video is on the UK’s Daily Mail. It should be noted that 3D printed skull transplants have been occurring since 2014 (just look at this one from this week), but this was the first ever human to human skull transplant.