Looking the World in the Face: The Benefits and Challenges of Facial Transplantation for Blind Patients

Prog Transplant. 2017 Mar;27(1):79-83. doi: 10.1177/1526924816679841. Epub 2016 Nov 25.


Total bilateral blindness in the setting of facial transplantation is a controversial matter. Some transplant teams exclude these candidates, while others accept them onto their facial transplant waiting list. Using 3 cases, the clinical and ethical complexity of total bilateral blindness is explored. Guidance (medical, psychological, and social) for total bilateral blindness as both an inclusion and exclusion criterion is provided, with the stipulation that total bilateral blindness should not be an automatic exclusion criterion for facial transplantation. Additionally, guidance for corneal transplant in facial transplant candidates is discussed. Suggestions for posttransplant disability assistance for patients with total bilateral blindness are also provided.

Keywords: blindness; ethics; face; facial transplantation; vascularized composite allotransplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blindness*
  • Facial Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection*