Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff
As a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Amir Taghinia has seen things that would crush the souls of most mortals.
But to help kids with one particular affliction, he and his colleagues have launched an ambitious project — to provide transplants for children who have lost both hands or both arms. Children’s created the world’s first hand transplant program for youngsters last year, after the hospital’s ethics committee spent two years reviewing the idea.
It’s a difficult undertaking for many reasons, and an actual transplant may still be years away, Taghinia said. But he’s willing to wait.
“I’ve seen patients lose their hands and their legs. Unfortunately too many,’’ Taghinia said. What he’d most like to do is restore them to their full healthy state. But if that’s not possible, he said, a transplant may be the next best thing.
“In the right patient, I think it can make a huge difference in someone’s quality of life,’’ Taghinia said.
Hand or arm transplants for children are a tricky business. Taghinia’s group is targeting kids who are at least 10 years old and has already screened many candidates. But there have been no surgeries yet.
“You really want a patient who has good family support, who is psychologically fit so they can potentially withstand the complications that may arise from having a transplant,’’ Taghinia said. And importantly, “They completely understand the risks that are involved.’’
That’s partly why the kids have to be at least 10, he said. They have to want the surgery themselves and to fully comprehend the choice they are making. That includes being willing to take medications to suppress the immune system and endure the side effects, potentially for life, so that the body won’t reject the new limbs.
Then there’s the difficulty of finding donors. Happily, not many children die. So sourcing donors is far more difficult than with adults donating organs, not least because the donor’s size must match the recipient’s.
“For all these reasons, it’s a challenge, and it will require a lot of patience to find the appropriate candidate and find the appropriate donor,’’ Taghinia said.
So they’re taking it slow, he said.
“We may never do a hand transplant, and that’s OK,’’ Taghinia said. But, “We would like to do one. And we think we can help the appropriate patient.’’
One woman’s story proves that you can never save too much.Continue reading »
Amid this hodgepodge of older one- and two-story buildings, Robert Korff sees a golden opportunity for a modern version of the Garden City.Continue reading »
Nearly 5,000 teaching and research assistants join the United Auto Workers, a union with blue-collar roots that has become a bastion of academic organizingContinue reading »
Hodges believes Boston can be the center of the blockchain universe.Continue reading »
For hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts, many of whom are hungry and isolated, Meals on Wheels is a daily human connection to the outside world.Continue reading »
The store has a well-known tradition of classic style. But nearby retailers say ongoing construction in Harvard Square has decreased their revenue.Continue reading »
Developers are betting that at least some companies would like to be somewhere in the middle — neither in downtown Boston nor in the suburbs.Continue reading »
Ames Business Park’s new owner plans to maintain it as a place for artists, innovators — and rock climbers.Continue reading »
Should the Red Sox pitch a no-hitter in any of the 64 games scheduled for July 17 through Oct. 1, Jordan’s Furniture will again be refunding customers’ purchases.Continue reading »