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Face, Limb Transplants Allocated Like Other Organs

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Face and limb transplants will soon be allocated like other organs, with a waiting list for people who have suffered life-altering injuries, a national governing board said Tuesday. The directors of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, or OPTN, approved the first national policies for transplant of limbs, faces and other structures, known as vascularized composite allografts, or VCAs. The new standards will be evaluated after 15 months. Through January 2014, 28 face and limb transplants have been performed at 11 U.S., hospitals, OPTN said. That includes high-profile patients like Charla Nash, who received a face transplant in 2008 after a chimp attack. Several hand transplants also have been performed. The new policies will better coordinate the medical specialties involved in such transplants and make the procedures more widely available. Nine people are currently waiting for VCA surgery, OPTN said. VCA transplants require specific separate consent for donation.

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- JoNel Aleccia

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