World’s first full face transplant undertaken in Spain

LAST UPDATED: 27 Apr, 2010 @ 16:16
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World’s first full face transplant undertaken in Spain

A FARMER who accidentally shot himself in the face has undergone the world’s first full face transplant in Barcelona.

The 24-hour operation is the first time an entire face has been transplanted, using tissue from a dead donor.

A team of 30 surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and transplant specialists replaced all parts of the patient’s face – including the skin, muscles, teeth and jaw – apart from his eyeballs and tongue.

“Relatives say that he looks in some areas like he did before the accident, but he doesn’t look like the donor at all, he’s changed completely.”

Joan Pere Barret, who led the team of surgeons, at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital,
said the procedure was a success and the patient was recovering well.

“He has the face of a new human being,” Barret explained. “Relatives say that he looks in some areas like he did before the accident, but he doesn’t look like the donor at all, he’s changed completely.”

The man, who is in his thirties but has not been identified, suffered severe disfigurement and lost his nose and jaw when he shot himself in 2005.

Despite previous surgical attempts to restore his face, he has had severe difficulties speaking, breathing and swallowing for the last five years.

At least ten facial transplants have been carried out in France, America, China and Spain in the past, but these have only involved part of the face.

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