(ANSA) – ROME, FEBRUARY 14 – Italy is increasingly at the forefront in the field of surgery of the future and at an international level. The new frontier of facial and upper limb transplants also speaks our language. Guglielmo Ludovico Ugo Ascanio Rufolo of Ravello, 39 years old, graduated in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Naples Federico II, licensed Surgeon, Ordinary Specialist in Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery at Federico II University, enrolled in the Order of Medical Specialists of Naples, is “the only Italian”, he says, in the group of 140 specialists who helped restore a ‘normal’ life to Joseph DiMeo, the young Italian American from New Jersey, now 22, who in August 2018, following a very serious car accident no longer had his face and hands. About ten days ago the boy, who today plays golf and has a face, showed himself to the world. Today Rufolo tells how, as a specialist, he was included in the team and some passages of this record intervention carried out last August. For Rufolo passion, profession but also a lot of training and constant practice. Then the call. “During my work at Tokyo University Hospital, to refine the sensitivity in the use of tweezers in the discipline of super micro nano aesthetic reconstructive surgery, Professor Isao Koshima, during my scholarship, made me work with rice grains to improve finger grip and find maximum concentration “. And then on the intervention to the 22-year-old: “It was an extraordinary intervention by medical science – says Rufolo who was also the protagonist of the rescue of two children during the terrorist attack in Stockholm in 2017 – both for the impressive number of experts involved and because it was the first simultaneous face-hands. And the face completely complete, no parts, including even the smallest details such as the eyebrows. The connection of two contiguous operating rooms between the donor and the recipient part is formidable “. There are two teams, Rufolo reports, who alternated on the one hand to give up unusable parts and on the other to graft the tissues and connect them. Intervention that lasted 25 hours and that in August 2020 came after months of several unsolvable attempts. It had previously taken ten months to find a donor. Rufolo speaks of the team as a “perfect car”. Everyone knew exactly what to do and at what time. “To date the patient has not developed any rejection”, reiterates Rufolo who has followed the engraftment phase, both at a clinical and research level.
Former student of the Sacred Heart, in 2006 Rufolo, born in Gallarate (Varese), with origins in Ravello and raised in Naples, he obtained the specialization in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2012 and then an International Master in Reconstructive Microsurgery. Hence numerous work experiences from Paris, New York, Tokyo and Barcelona, Scandinavia and Italy to Milan. Since 2016 he has been in the team at NYU Langone New York University in Manhattan – Face Transplant Program – of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, Department of Professor Converse, supervised by Professor Eduardo Rodriguez of NYU Langone Medical Center New York University, famous for rescue in the disaster of the twin towers of 11 September 2001, for having operated the military of the Delta Force special groups returned from the war.
There have been more than 40 face transplants and more than 85 hands in the world so far, one or both. Never, before, but face and hands in the same patient simultaneously. “I thank Professor Eduardo Rodriguez with his entire team and the NYU Langone Health stuff for welcoming me.” “Ours – concludes Rufolo – is a contribution to future specialist surgical sciences, to remind all our colleagues of our ability to overcome the frontiers of the international scientific community”. (HANDLE).