By MATT PALMER, CBS NEWS “A donor hair length can be the difference between life and death for someone with a terminal illness,” said Dr. David C. Cohen, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
“So to make sure that we can find a way to give as much life as possible to someone with terminal illness, it’s important that we have a way of determining whether the donor hair is enough.”
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says a donor hair can make a difference in how much life a person with terminal disease can enjoy.
“We know that it can be a very important factor in determining whether you can give a life, especially if it’s a person who is terminally ill,” said Meryl A. Rees, the institute’s director of research and development.
A person with a life-threatening illness, like HIV/AIDS, has a chance of living until about age 60 or 70.
But because it’s not known if someone with cancer has the same chances, it is not known whether hair transplantation can be used to prolong life.
“There is a huge opportunity for us to provide life extension in patients with cancer,” said Rees.
“The problem is that we don’t know whether the recipient will have enough hair to be able to give life,” she said.
“A transplant can’t replace a donor’s immune system.
It’s not a replacement for blood.
But if we can reduce the amount of hair, the person can give more blood, which in turn can improve the immune system and allow for greater longevity,” Rees said.
A donor’s hair could be cut, combed, shaved, styled or styled in the donor’s home or elsewhere.
Reams told CBS News that hair transplant recipients could also receive chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments.
“When a person dies, we want to give them the best quality of life we can give them,” said Cohen.
“And that includes making sure they are in a position to provide as much blood as possible, whether that’s for a transplant or whether that comes from the donor.”
The research was published in the Journal of Allergic Diseases.