Sunday, December 10, 2006
In this weeks' PEOPLE magazine, there's a feature on twin sisters from Pennsylvania who underwent an unusual type of organ transplantation. After radiation treatments and a failed implant-based breast reconstruction, Naomi DeSalvo Whinnie turned to micro-surgeon extraordinaire Dr. Bob Allen in Charleston, SC for help.
Dr. Allen is the father of the "DIEP" flap for breast reconstruction, an operation that uses microsurgical techniques to transfer tissue from the abdomen to the chest and performs more then 100 hundred such reconstructions annually. The catch here is that the tissue in this case was provided from the abdomen of Mrs. Whinnie's identical twin sister, Nina DeSalvo Hildebrand. This operation can be performed on twins without intense immunosuppression because their immune systems do not recognize the tissue as foreign and reject it. This is the third such twin-twin DIEP flap Dr. Allen has performed in what is likely the largest personal experience in the world.
Seen below are the sisters shown recovering in a shared hospital room.