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Face transplant hailed a success...

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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A 31 year old man is recovering from a full face transplant at his home in Barcelona.

 

The man had been left unable to breathe, swallow, or talk properly after an accident 5 years ago. A shooting accident meant his entire facial skin and muscles, including nose and lips, needed replacing.

 

A team of 30 experts carried out the 24-hour long operation on 20 March at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital, in Barcelona. Led by Dr JP Barret, the team transplanted muscles, nose, lips, maxilla, palate, all teeth, cheekbones, and the mandible by means of plastic surgery and micro-neurovascular reconstructive surgery techniques. This is the first operation to transplant the majority of the facial features and bones and has been deemed the most complex to date.

 

The first partial face transplant was carried out by doctors in Amiens, France, in 2005 on, Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old woman who had been mauled by her dog. Ms Dinoire received a new nose, chin and lips.

 

A spokesperson for the UK's Facial Transplantation Research Team, which has ethical permission to carry out a full face transplant, said it was "a tremendous achievement". They commented that this is now an option for people who have suffered severe facial injuries, but for whom reconstructive surgery simply is not suitable.

 

It is fantastic to see medics pushing the boundaries with regards to these life changing operations. Now this specific operation has been heralded a success, we can only hope that many more people will go on to benefit from transplant surgery.

 

By clinical negligence solicitor and Stephensons' Partner, Louise Griffiths

 

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