Texas man first to get transplanted skull, scalp, kidney and pancreas, doctors say

Posted at 2:49 PM, Jun 05, 2015

A man who suffered from a rare form of cancer has received a first-of-its-kind surgery, doctors in Texas said.

Doctors performed the surgery on James Boysen at Houston Methodist Hospital on May 22. It was noteworthy because Boysen got a skull and scalp transplant at the same time as kidney and pancreas transplants, the hospital said.

Boysen, 55, a software developer from Austin, “is the first patient to receive the simultaneous craniofacial tissue transplant together with solid organ transplants,” the hospital said in a statement.

‘A long journey’

Boysen said he’s relieved and ready to get back to his favorite activities.

“This has been a long journey, and I am so grateful to all the doctors who performed my transplants,” he said.

Teams of about 50 health care professionals from Houston Methodist Hospital and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center performed the 15-hour surgery.

“This was a very complex surgery because we had to transplant the tissues utilizing microsurgery,” said Michael Klebuc, who led the plastic surgery team.

Rare cancer

Boysen was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that affected the smooth muscle on his scalp, nine years ago. He was successfully treated with chemotherapy and radiation, leaving a massive wound on his head.

“In addition to the wound, which would require a major reconstructive undertaking, Boysen’s kidney and pancreas, which were first transplanted in 1992, were failing,” Houston Methodist Hospital said.

“Diagnosed with diabetes at age 5, Boysen’s declining condition over the years prompted the original double-organ transplant.”

Boysen was on immune suppressing drugs after a previous kidney and pancreas transplant failed, which complicated the process. Doctors conceptualized the surgery four years ago, but were waiting on a donor.

It was conducted about 20 hours after doctors found out they had a donor.