Following last year’s successful and first live hamstring transplant in Europe, which allowed us to repair a youngster’s ski-holiday damaged anterior cruciate ligament by using donor tissue from her mother, I have been approached by several surgeons interested in the procedure.
Explaining the operation itself was not an issue since surgeons in Australia have been performing it for 15 years.
The decision to use donor tissue was based on the knowledge that in young children their own hamstrings can be too small making them inadequate for use for in ligament replacement.
Being allowed to perform a human tissue transplant is not a straightforward course of action.
As a result of the Alder Hey Hospital scandal of the 1990s, where it was discovered that thousands of organs had been stored in unhygienic conditions and without suitable permission, the Human Tissues Act (2004) decreed that any hospital in the UK wishing to get involved in transplants had to be licenced under strict procedures.
Before that licence could be granted a rigorous process had to be established for collecting body parts, storing them and transporting them to the operating theatre.
Jumping over so many hurdles has discouraged many surgeons and hospitals from having a transplant capability.
At Basingstoke we are fortunate that ten years earlier one of my predecessors had the foresight to acquire such a licence because as he wanted to set up a bone bank for the healthy parts of hips removed during replacement surgery.
His thinking at the time was based around quality and cost control. It is possible to import the femoral heads from America at around £1,400 a time but there is no guarantee of quality. Harvesting the bone locally can be done for around £100 with the surgeons able to decide whether the tissue is healthy enough for future reuse.
So with no big hurdles to jump over other than having to describe the technique to mum (the donor) and the patient the actual operating procedure was a standard ligament replacement.
The good news is that both mum and daughter are now doing brilliantly.
Basingstoke’s foresight enables Hampshire Knee to perform world class surgery
Hampshire Knee’s access to Basingstoke’s tissue bank allows for innovative solutions.
A year ago the Hampshire Knee team performed a live hamstring transplant from mum to daughter. Both are doing well and thanks to our access to the Basingstoke Tissue Bank we can undertake similar world class surgery when needed – read our blog for more information.