I met with one of my earliest transplant patients who had surgery in 1992 when I was just in practice for about 6 months. We performed 400 grafts on this patient and he reminded me of the troubles I had in using the glue to hold the grafts in place. At first I had to think about what he was talking about… and then I remembered the painful process of placing a large number of grafts close together.
In those early days, just 80 grafts was considered a big session. 400 grafts was a huge surgery and putting grafts close together caused them to pop out, so I came up with the use of a medical quality methyl methacrylate (a form of super glue) to hold the grafts in place. The problems I encountered was that the glue was stringy and I had to be able to limit the glue to one corner of the graft, holding it to the skin. I had to put the methyl methacrylate into an insulin syringe and then express it through a very tiny needle to produce a micro-drop.
I had to work out just how to do many grafts at one time to stop the popping before this “glue” bonded into the insulin syringe. The glue problem was never solved to my satisfaction, but eventually I developed a very sensitive touch so that when I placed the grafts and kept a steady hand, I did not disturb the adjacent grafts. Eventually I mastered this technique and taught it to my staff. Now the world does it that way.
The patient compared the procedure we did recently to the one I did to him in 1992 and we both has a good laugh. This most recent procedure was his third and the grafts that I placed in 1992 worked very well for him over the past 22 years.