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Pioneering transplant surgeon Pedro Cavadas leaves public health service
By thinkSPAIN Team Fri, Aug 9, 2019
’SUPER-SURGEON’ Pedro Cavadas is no longer working for the public health service, having taken a job at a private clinic in Valencia.
Formerly based at the hospital in Manises – the nearest town to Valencia airport – which he left in mid-July, Dr Cavadas has made international headlines in his unusual career as a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
Hailed as a ‘transplant genius’, Cavadas shot to national fame in 2004 when he managed to keep a 25-year-old patient’s severed arm ‘alive’ by connecting the veins and arteries in it to the man’s own upper thigh for nine days, before reimplanting the limb.
Later, in 2006, at Valencia’s La Fe hospital – one of the most high-tech and pioneering in the country – Dr Cavadas transplanted two hands and an arm below the elbow on a woman from Castellón (second picture) who had lost them 28 years previously in an explosion, a procedure which had only ever been carried out six times in history, in France, Austria and China.
And 10 years ago, he successfully completed out the first-ever face transplant in Spain, which was then only the eighth in the world, on a 43-year-old Canary Islander who had been left totally disfigured by an aggressive form of cancer.
The most recent of his operations to be reported in national media was that of sewing back on four toes that a child of four had lost when they became trapped on a fairground ride.
Other, smaller operations that have made the news in Spain included sewing a US marine’s severed hand back on and getting a British cyclist walking again for the first time in 18 months after four interventions on a fractured femur - following a crash with a drunk driver – had completely failed.
A year ago, Cavadas also rebuilt a gap between the spinal column and pelvis of a man who had been paralysed since the age of nine after a shooting incident, enabling him to move his upper body again.
When Dr Cavadas made history
Among the more pioneering operations Cavadas, 54, has conducted was the reimplanting of both legs on a 38-year-old man from the inland Valencia-province village of Benigànim, who had lost them after being run over by a train – an intervention that forced him to reduce the patient’s height by between 13 and 14 centimetres (roughly five to six inches).
This was 12 years ago, and only a week after Cavadas had carried out another double arm and hand transplant, this time on a man.
In 2008, a motorcyclist from Paterna (Valencia province) lost his foot in a crash – the extremity was severed clean off, but Dr Cavadas, who had just returned from Kenya where he had operated on 70 victims of a paramilitary faction’s attacks, managed to fix the foot back on.
A first for Spain and only the second in the world, the ground-breaking surgeon carried out the first-ever double arm transplant above the elbow on a man aged 28 – just a month after refitting the motorbiker’s foot.
The world’s first double leg transplant was carried out by Dr Cavadas at La Fe hospital in 2011, on a man in his 20s, who was able to walk again within the year, and the following year he refitted both feet on a young boy who had lost them in a traffic accident.
Dr Cavadas, as well as running his own charity in Kenya and participating in it actively, works for other humanitarian organisations – one was the Adra Foundation, which funded three operations on Samira, a Moroccan woman who had suffered a neurofibromin on her face that had disfigured her, causing rejection within her community.
Her face was rebuilt and a replacement eye fitted.
And Kenya Red Cross put Dr Cavadas in touch with a 35-year-old man who had been forced to flee the country in 2006 – five years later, a giant malignant tumour at the base of his skull had been growing out of control due to lack of treatment through his situation as a refugee.
Microsurgery carried out between 2011 and 2016 – four procedures in total – involved reconstructing his skull and face.
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