21 September 2008

Twins take part in landmark medical procedure

Identical twin brothers have made medical history, after one gave the other a piece of his back.

Scott Mills needs metal rods put in his spine to help him breathe more easily Photo: Archant
Luke Mills, 19, underwent the procedure because his brother Scott suffers from severe scoliosis or curvature of the spine.
Scott, from Mutford, Suffolk, needs metal rods put in his spine in an operation that will help him breathe more easily, stop his spine collapsing, and in the long term, save his life.
After a number of operations, however, Scott's back was so scarred and thin that surgeons would not have been able to sew him up again.
Last month Luke donated a 10in by 6in flap - a piece of skin, fat and muscle with a vein and artery - from his back.
Surgeons at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital removed the flesh before colleagues grafted it on to Scott's back in an adjoining theatre.
It is the first time the operation has ever been carried out on identical twins.
Elaine Sassoon, consultant plastic surgeon at the hospital, said: "I had sleepless nights. It was worse than a standard operation because you are operating on a healthy person who doesn't need surgery.
"If I had taken the flap from him and failed it would have been terrible."
Scott, who plans to study accountancy at the University of East Anglia, has had scoliosis since he was a baby.
He said: "I think we are closer than brothers because we are at the same stage of life. We were already close anyway so we knew we would do anything we could to help each other."
He added: "It was really nice of him to say he would do it. There is a lot more pain involved for the donor than the recipient."
Luke, who is studying French at the British Institute in Paris, said: "He was more worried about me than he was about himself, after all he had been through."
Scott's next operation is in October, when he will have the metal rods put back in his spine.

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