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1st U.S. Face Transplant Patient Recovering

Patient Is "Doing Well" and Shows No Sign of Tissue Rejection, Her Doctors Say

From the WebMD Archives


The Cleveland Clinic predicts that the patient's facial swelling will ease in a few months, that she'll get feeling in her face within the next six months or so, and that about a year from now, most of her face should be functional.

She won't look like her donor.

"Even though some bone was transferred from the donor to the recipient, the underlying facial structure of any two people is very different," states a Cleveland Clinic fact sheet about the face transplant.

More Face Transplants Ahead?

Siemionow says her team has gotten a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense and is evaluating severely disfigured veterans who might be candidates for the procedure.

The procedure is risky. There's the risk of tissue rejection, the lifelong need for immune-suppressing drugs, and the possibility that if the transplant doesn't take, a patient might need to undergo a skin graft using skin from their own body. Patients also need to be psychologically stable, resilient, responsible, and self-reliant, and to have exhausted all other treatment options, notes the Cleveland Clinic.

Previous Face Transplants

In 2005, French doctors reported performing the first human face transplant on a woman whose face had been severely injured by dog bites. In December 2007, those doctors said the results from the woman's partial face transplant were "satisfactory."

In August 2008, The Lancet published reports of two other patients who got partial face transplants. One of those patients was a man in China who had been mauled by a bear; the other patient was a man in France whose face had been disfigured by a tumor.