Bohdan Pomahač (* 1971) found and led a medical team, which in 2011 was the first in the US to perform a full face transplant. Since then, his team has made seven face transplants (the most in the world) and three bilateral hand transplants.
Bohdan Pomahač; Photo Archive of Bohdan Pomahač
A most important achievement
Face transplantation is a complicated surgical operation that replaces missing facial tissues (bone, muscles, vessels, nerves) as a whole by transferring from the donor to the recipient. The surgery is preceded by many detailed examinations to optimize the choice of the donor. The start of the operation takes place in two teams. One team travels to a donor and works to remove tissues, the other
team simultaneously prepares the patient to whom the face will be transplanted in the operating room. It is all a struggle with time because it is necessary to get into the four-hour time space during which the tissue must be perfused again. The size of each removed part has to be very well measured and planned to ensure the best possible function of all transferred tissues.
After graduation from the Medical Faculty of the University of Palacký in Olomouc in 1996 Bohdan Pomahač carried out a two-year research project in the Laboratory for gene transfer in Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. After accepting a General Surgery residency there, he continued his postgraduate training in the integrated Harvard Plastic Surgery Program. In 2004, he became a plastic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. From 2009 to 2017 he was the Director of the Burn Center there. From 2009 he has also been the Director of Plastic Surgery Transplantation and head of a research team that focuses on minimization of immunosuppressive use and is involved in the development of procedures extending the vitality of transplanted tissues.
Benefits for society
It is important, that patients can breathe, move their lips, articulate or eat, and be able to express their emotions. And to look human, which is a very significant function of the face. Bohdan Pomahač has helped several people to get a new face after heavy facial injuries.
His professional interest focuses mainly on facial reconstruction, cosmetic surgery, reconstructions of burned tissue and microsurgery. Bohdan Pomahač is a pioneer in the field of facial transplantation and vascularized composite allotransplantation.
In 2015 he was awarded the President’s Medal of Merit for service to the Republic in science. In 2017, he was appointed professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Distinguished Chair in Surgery.
“One patient asked me only nine days after the surgery, where a good Japanese restaurant is in Boston. He wanted to take his girlfriend for dinner. He felt normal, after a long time,” said Bohdan Pomahač, Czech plastic surgeon.