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Man who lost half his face after being electrocuted receives first-ever eye and face transplant
Featured Image Credit: THE JAMES FAMILY/ NYU Langone Health

Man who lost half his face after being electrocuted receives first-ever eye and face transplant

Aaron James was working for a power line company when he experienced the near-fatal electrocution

A man who lost almost half of his face after being electrocuted has made history by becoming the world's first eye transplant patient.

Aaron James, a dad from Arkansas, was working for a power line company in June 2021 when he was struck with a 7,200-volt electric shock from a live wire.

Amazingly he managed to survive the incident, but in doing so he had to learn to live without his left eye, his left arm, and the face he'd had all of his life.

The shock destroyed James' entire nose and lips, his front teeth and his left cheek, as well as his chin.

In the aftermath of the incident, James underwent multiple reconstructive surgeries and physical therapy.

In May, he also underwent the world’s first transplant of an entire human eye with surgeons at NYU Langone Health, as well as receiving a face transplant.

The operation took 21 hours, and saw surgeons inject into James special stem cells from the person who donated the eye, in the hope of spurring the repair of the optic nerve.

Aaron James lost his nose and lips in the incident.
YouTube/NYU Langone Health

Six months on, doctors are happy with the way James' body has accepted the eye.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the transplant, commented: “We’re not claiming that we are going to restore sight. But there’s no doubt in my mind we are one step closer.”

James, who is 46 years old, said the eye 'feels good'.

"I still don’t have any movement in it yet. My eyelid, I can’t blink yet. But I’m getting sensation now,” he told Associated Press.

Though James was essentially a guinea pig in being the first person to undergo a full eye transplant, he pointed out that he'd be no worse off if the operation failed.

Aaron is now wearing an eye patch to protected the donated eye.
YouTube/NYU Langone Health

“You got to start somewhere, there’s got to be a first person somewhere," he said. "Maybe you’ll learn something from it that will help the next person.”

James also noted that doctors 'never expected' the donated eye to regain vision, but added: "Hopefully this opens up a new path.”

However, while doctors haven't made any promises, the potential for the donated eye to regain vision isn't out of the question.

“I don't think anyone can claim that he will see. But by the same token, they can’t claim that he will not see,” Rodriguez said.

“At this point, I think we're pretty happy with the result that we were able to achieve with a very technically demanding operation.”

Topics: Health, Science, New York, US News, Technology