Kia Washington, M.D.'s picture
Washington, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery

University of Pittsburgh


Dr. Kia M. Washington is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery. She performs hand and upper extremity surgery, breast reduction and augmentation, and reconstructive microsurgery following trauma. She has specialty training in hand and upper extremity surgery. Dr. Washington completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University in Stanford, California and earned her medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine. She completed her plastic and reconstructive surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh. During her training she dedicated two years to full-time basic science research as a fellow in the Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute, funded by an extra-mural NIH grant and research fellowship from the Plastic Surgery Foundation. Her research examined functional outcome after face and hand allotransplantation. After completing residency, she pursued a hand and microsurgery fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Washington is the Associate Director of the Hand Transplantation program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Title of Abstract

Total Human Eye Allotransplantation: Looking Toward the Future of Vision Restoration Therapy

Presenting Author

Kia Washington, M.D.


Nearly 39 million people suffer from vision loss worldwide. Traumatic, ischemic or degenerative diseases are the main causes of irreversible blindness. The poor prognosis as a result of these conditions results primarily from irreparable damage to the retina and optic nerve.  The goal of our research is to reverse blindness through whole eye transplantation.  Similar to face and hand transplantation, whole eye transplantation restores form and function with organ donor tissue as it offers the potential to provide viable retinal ganglion cells, which are the cells that carry visual information from the eye through the optic nerve to the brain, to recipients with vision loss.  We have created a viable whole eye transplant model in the rat and are using it to explore viability, structural integrity, and functional outcome in the setting of transplantation.  In parallel, we have developed a cadaveric human surgical protocol, which serves as a benchmark for optimization of technique, large animal development and ultimately potentiates the possibility of vision restoration transplantation surgery.

Research Interests

Dr. Kia Washington's goal for clinical hand transplant patients is to limit immunosuppression while maximizing functional outcome. She is also a principal investigator in the Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation (VCA) Research Laboratory. Her research interests include improving nerve regeneration after injury and in the setting of VCA.  In addition Dr. Washington has developed a special expertise in the study of cortical reorganization after VCA. Her ultimate goal is to utilize electrophysiological interventions to mitigate changes that occur in the brain after VCA, in order to obtain optimal functional recovery and quality of life after hand and face transplantation.

Author Listing

Kia M. Washington, MD1,2,4, Yang Li,1  Chiaki Komatsu, MD1, Maxine R. Miller, Lin He, MD1, Touka Banaee, MD1 , Yong Wang, MD1, Bing Li, MD1,   Edward Davidson, MD1, Wendy Chen, MD, MS1, Joshua Barnett, BS1, Yolandi van der Merwe, B. Eng.1, Mario G. Solari, MD1,2, Andrew W. Eller, MD1, Joel S. Schuman, MD3,  and Jose Sahel, MD1


University of Pittsburgh Medical College

All Author Affiliations

 (1)University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, (2)McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, (3)New York University, New York, NY, (4)VA Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA