First Skull-Scalp Transplant Conducted in Texas

July 26, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. conduct / kənˈdʌkt / (v.) – to do a certain task
Example: The doctor conducted the brain surgery.

2. transplant / ˈtrænsˌplænt / (n.) – a medical procedure wherein an organ is transferred into another person
Example: We will conduct the transplant once we find a compatible kidney donor.

3. recover / riˈkʌv ər / (v.) – to get back to one’s healthy state after an illness or injury
Example: Michael is recovering from colds.

4. recipient / rɪˈsɪp i ənt / (n.) – one who receives or gets something
Example: Max is the recipient of the donated blood.

5. damage / ˈdæm ɪdʒ / (v.) – to cause injury or harm
Example: The motorcycle accident damaged a part of her skull.


Read the text below.
Doctors in Texas conducted the first ever partial skull and scalp transplant in May this year.

To help a man recover from cancer treatment complications, doctors from Houston [HYOO-stuh n] Methodist Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center decided to conduct the skull-scalp transplant. This operation is the first skull-scalp treatment from a human donor, as previous transplants used artificial implants.

The recipient of this treatment was 55-year-old Jim Boysen, a software developer from Austin, Texas. In 1992, Boysen had undergone a kidney-pancreas transplant as treatment for his diabetes. To prevent organ rejection, Boysen had to take immune suppression drugs. These drugs, however, increased his cancer risks, which led to the development of leiomyosarcoma [lee-oh-my-oh-sar-KOHM-ah].

The treatment for this rare type of cancer—radiation therapy—damaged a part of Boysen’s head, specifically the area under his scalp. The immune suppression drugs prevented his body from repairing this damage, while his transplanted organs started to fail. The only hope for Boysen was the skull-scalp transplant.

After finding a compatible skull and scalp donor, doctors carefully performed the transplant. Soon after, Boysen also underwent a kidney-pancreas transplant. Fortunately, both procedures were successful, thus improving Boysen’s health.

In 2014, a similar treatment was conducted on a woman from the Netherlands. However, the 22-year-old woman’s skull was replaced with a 3-D plastic implant instead of that of a human. She was diagnosed with a chronic bone disorder, causing her skull to thicken. This condition affected her vision and gave her severe headaches. The operation was reported to be a success, as the patient was able to regain her eyesight and is now symptom-free.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are some possible concerns about Boysen’s transplanted scalp?
·         Should hospitals around the world allow this kind of surgery? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Would you be willing to donate any of your organs? Why?
·         Which do you think is better, a human implant or an artificial implant? Why?

July 26, 2015