This Man Received the First-Ever Whole-Eye Transplant

NYU Langone Health
NYU Langone Health

An Arkansas high-voltage utility line worker who lost most of his face in a 2021 work accident has a new eye after undergoing the world’s first-ever human eye transplant conducted by a team of over 140 surgeons at NYU Langone Health back in May. One of Aaron James’ surgeons, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, said he was lucky to just be alive, noting that he was rushed to a burn unit and had to have his arm amputated above the elbow. CNN reported that he also lost his nose, his front teeth, his left eye, his dominant left hand, his chin, and his lips. Even after several reconstructive surgeries, James couldn’t eat or drink properly and had difficulty speaking, so he agreed to a face transplant, including a donor eye. The procedure lasted about 21 hours and was divided into two operating rooms–one where surgeons removed parts of James’ face that would be replaced and another where Rodriguez dissected the donor face and eyeball. His medical team said James’ eye is showing “remarkable” signs of health and hope that vision will come with time.

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