Dear Dr. Rassman,
I understand that hair cannot be donated from another person, yet why is it possible that organs can be?
I was reading an article today, Doctors Report Transplant Breakthrough, that mentions the possibility that organ recipients could one day not have to take anti-rejection drugs the rest of their life. If this prove to be true, can hair transplants from other people be a reality?
Unless the genetics are a perfect match, any organ that is transplanted (including hair, which is an organ) has until now forced the patient to take drugs to knock down the rejection process. The reason that a hair transplant works is that each person is his own donor and therefore has perfectly matched genetics. The drugs that you take for controlling organ rejection from a heart or kidney can kill you, but not having a heart or a kidney will kill you anyway. Rejecting hair from another person won’t kill you… just leave you bald and it it 100% certain that the hair from another person will reject.
The five patients in this article all had kidney transplants and were on anti-rejection medication for a period of time and have received marrow from the donor. I would not want to be the first volunteer for such procedures, and the relationship between these patients and a potential to harvest hair from others are decades away.