The government wants to start regulating face and hand transplants just as it does now with kidneys, hearts and other organs, with waiting lists, a nationwide system to match and distribute body parts, and donor testing to prevent infections.
It's a big step toward expanding access to these radical operations, especially for wounded troops returning home. More than 1,000 troops have lost an arm or leg in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the government estimates that 200 troops might be eligible for face transplants.
The Health Resources Services Administration, the U.S. agency that regulates organ transplants, has proposed rules that expand the regulation of transplants to include faces, hands and other body parts. Waiting lists are informal and local now. The new rule would make transplants part of the nationwide matching system run by the United Network for Organ Sharing.