A 55-year-old man from Austin who suffered from a rare form of cancer has received a first-of-its-kind surgery.
Texas doctors performed the surgery on James Boysen at Houston Methodist Hospital last month. The surgery was noteworthy because Boysen got a skull and scalp transplant at the same time as kidney and pancreas transplants.
Boysen, a software developer, has become the first patient to receive the simultaneous craniofacial tissue transplant together with solid organ transplants. “This has been a long journey, and I am so grateful to all the doctors who performed my transplants,” Boysen said.
The 15-hour-long surgery was performed by teams of about 50 health care professionals from Houston Methodist Hospital and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“This was a very complex surgery because we had to transplant the tissues utilizing microsurgery,” said Michael Klebuc, who led the plastic surgery team. Nine years ago, Boysen was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma. It is a rare cancer that affected the smooth muscle on his scalp. He was successfully treated with chemotherapy and radiation.
“But, he got a massive wound on his head. In addition to the wound, which would require a major reconstructive undertaking, Boysen’s kidney and pancreas, which were first transplanted in 1992, were failing,” Houston Methodist Hospital said.
Boysen’s declining condition over the years prompted the double-organ transplant.
Boysen was on immune suppressing drugs after a previous kidney and pancreas transplant failed, which complicated the process. Doctors conceptualized the surgery four years ago. But it was conducted about 20 hours after doctors found out they had a donor.