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Transplant Surgery: Ethics

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration his Department has given to the ethical implications of face transplants; and if he will make a statement. (182263)

Clinicians need to be sure that any procedure is safe and that the patient is fully informed of any risks or limitations, in accordance with good professional practice, and in line with General Medical Council guidance. Necessary consent arrangements and tissue matching would need to be in order, as for any other type of transplant. If the procedure is being carried out in the context of research, it would need the approval of the local Research Ethics Committee.

In the particular case of a face transplant, in addition to ethical approval, doctors may need to get agreement from the Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee which is part of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The Royal College of Surgeons have now published their report which expressed concerns about the substantial risk of acute or chronic rejection but believed that face transplants could go ahead providing certain conditions were met.