We examine ethical considerations in access to facial transplantation (FT), with implications for promoting health equity. As a form of vascularised composite allotransplantation, FT is still considered innovative with a relatively low volume of procedures performed to date by a small number of active FT programmes worldwide. However, as numbers continue to increase and institutions look to establish new FT programmes, we anticipate that attention will shift from feasibility towards ensuring the benefits of FT are equitably available to those in need. This manuscript assesses barriers to care and their ethical implications across a number of considerations, with the intent of mapping various factors relating to health equity and fair access to FT. Evidence is drawn from an evolving clinical experience as well as published scholarship addressing several dimensions of access to FT. We also explore novel concerns that have yet to be mentioned in the literature.
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Contributors LLK led the planning of the paper, wrote the first draft incorporating contributions from coauthors, and oversaw manuscript preparation, submission and revisions. EPR, ARA, GKD and ZPB contributed to planning the paper, writing and revision of the manuscript. EDR contributed to planning of the paper, commented on the paper and made revisions. All authors contributed intellectual content and have approved the final version of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.