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Thu, Aug 14

How the Face Became an Organ

On July 3 of this year, the face became an “organ”. Changes to US Federal health policy came into effect, moving face transplantation into the jurisdiction of medical procedures governed and administrated by the agencies that oversee the US national transplant system – the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN) and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

This policy introduced into the world a new type of thing: the “VCA organ”. The term refers to vascularized composite allografts, complete sections of tissue that are procured for transplantation. The most common VCA procedures are face transplantation and hand transplantation. My research to date has examined how the former has introduced new institutional and epistemic understandings and practices into world of biomedicine.

Read more from Samuel Taylor-Alexander at Somatosphere.