By Hayley Pugh
Identical twins who have lived together all of their lives have become even closer after sharing their skin.
Marian Fields, from Missouri, had an aggressive form of skin cancer and went through six operations and 30 radiation treatments leaving her with large open wounds on her back.
The 66-year-old had lost all hope of a full recovery after plastic surgeons refused to take on her extreme case, until her sister, Mary Jane, stepped in and offered her own skin for transplant surgery.
Plastic surgeon Dr Jesse Selber from MD Anderson Cancer Centre performed the 14-hour operation – harvesting skin, tissue and blood vessels from Mary Jane and transplanting it to Marian’s back.
Mary Jane’s abdomen was then repaired just like a tummy tuck.
Having an identical twin made the transplant more likely to succeed for Marian because no suppression of her immune system was required – but there were still huge risks.
Mary Jane said: “There was never a moment of hesitation when the option to donate skin and tissue was a possibility.
“I would never have had plastic surgery for myself but this was for Marian. I had what she needed.”
Plastic surgeon, Jesse Selber, who previously performed the first skull-scalp transplant, added: “Marian’s wound was impossibly large.
“Without her genetically identical sister, we would not have had enough tissue to reconstruct it.”