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What is Vascular Composite Allograft (VCA) Transplantation?

Vascular Composite Allotransplantation is a medical term used to describe hand, upper limb, face, uterus, penis, and other transplants. It is a surgery in which a body part from a deceased person who had agreed to donate (the donor) is transplanted to a person who needs that body part (the recipient).

Only the uterus can be donated from a living person who has agreed to donate.

The hands, upper limbs, face, and uterus are now defined as organs, just like the kidneys, liver, or heart.

Who is VCA for?

People who have experienced severe injury to their face, hands, arms, uterus, or other VCA organs due to disease, infection, or trauma may be eligible for VCA transplant. Some examples of people who might be eligible include: 

  • A man whose face was disfigured from a severe injury. 

  • A woman who had her uterus removed due to cancer. 

  • A Wounded Warrior whose hands and arms were injured during military service.

All people seeking a VCA transplant must go through a medical and psychosocial evaluation process before being placed on the waiting list to receive a transplant.

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What are the benefits of VCA?

VCA improves the quality of life for many recipients. For many VCA transplant recipients, specifically face and upper limb recipients, this means being able to engage socially and be in public without drawing unwanted stares or attention. 

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Hand transplants can help recipients do daily activities and exercise.

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Uterus transplants can help recipients become pregnant and deliver a baby.

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Abdominal wall transplants can help recipients recover from intestinal surgeries and regain strength in their abdomen for daily activities, like walking and sitting down.

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Face transplants can help recipients speak, chew, and swallow food, and make facial expressions.

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Penis transplants can help recipients urinate and regain sexual function.

Some recipients have said that VCA has helped restore their self-esteem, confidence, and feeling whole again. Outcomes or results differ for each VCA recipient and are based on the recipient’s physical condition, the body’s response to the new organ, psychosocial wellbeing, and social support system. Success is measured differently for each VCA organ and recipient. 

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“I am very grateful to be given a second chance.”

The History of VCA

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Source: https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/data/view-data-reports/national-data/

Data is from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) national data as of

May 14, 2024.

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