August 27, 2019

Family donor for hair – is it possible?

One question we get asked a lot is, can I get my sister or brother or family member to donate their hair for my hair transplant? They have a lot of hair while my hair is very thin. It sounds like a great plan. Unfortunately, every individual is unique and different in their genetic make-up. That means our bodies will reject any body tissue (including hair) not recognised as our own, even if it is from our close relatives. How about kidney transplant or liver transplant you might ask. Yes those procedures exist as a life-saving operation, because without a functioning kidney or liver, the patient will not live. For such life-saving operations, the donor and recipient must undergo a very thorough screening process to ensure that the organ is a close match to the patient’s, to minimise any chances of organ rejection.

Even after finding a match and undergoing a successful organ transplant operation, the recipient of the new kidney or liver or lung must undergo lifelong immune suppression medication or treatment, so that his or her body does not reject the new kidney or liver. There are drawbacks to such treatments, including higher risks of developing infections, falling sick more easily and even developing cancers in some cases.
Sad to say, at this point in time, there is no viable solution to donating hair for another family member. The next bet might be to grow hairs in the lab or to clone our own hairs, so that we have an infinite number of hairs for transplantation. However, this is a complex and poorly understood realm at the moment. There have been very small successes reported in mice. Even in those studies, they were not able to grow proper hair follicles, only duplicate hair cells in the mice skin.
Jumping to the next step of human trials is still a pipe dream. Will it happen in the next ten or twenty years? No one knows, although it is unlikely. Until then, the most reliable and safe advice is still to look after your hair, treat early signs of hair thinning with scientifically proven methods and as a last resort, to undergo a proper hair transplant procedure for the best results.

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