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Bone transplantation and tissue engineering, part I. Mythology, miracles and fantasy: from Chimera to the Miracle of the Black Leg of Saints Cosmas and Damian and the cock of John Hunter


The replacement of diseased organs and tissues by the healthy ones of others has been a unique milestone in modern medicine. However, even though cloning, member transplantation and regenerative therapies with stem cells are available in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, one should remember that all these techniques were in the imagination more than 2,000 years ago. For centuries, transplantation remained a theme of mythology, miracle or fantasy and was found only in literature and arts. This first paper explains the concept of tissue transplantation from the period when it was relegated to the imagination to the work of the Scottish surgeon and anatomist, John Hunter, who demonstrated the viability of bone allograft.

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Correspondence to Philippe Hernigou.

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Hernigou, P. Bone transplantation and tissue engineering, part I. Mythology, miracles and fantasy: from Chimera to the Miracle of the Black Leg of Saints Cosmas and Damian and the cock of John Hunter. International Orthopaedics (SICOT) 38, 2631–2638 (2014).

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  • Orthopaedic history
  • Bone graft history
  • Tissue engineering
  • Orthopaedic mythology
  • Allograft history