1st Face Transplant Patient Doing Well

Doctors Report 'Satisfactory' Results in Patient 18 Months After Face Transplant

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 12, 2007

Dec. 12, 2007 -- French doctors report "satisfactory" results from the first human face transplant, done in 2005 on a French woman whose face had been mangled by dog bites.

human partial face transplantationThe woman (whose name her doctors don't divulge) received a partial face transplant covering most of her face, except her forehead, in November 2005, when she was 38 years old.

Five days after surgery, the woman was reportedly talking.

Six months later, heat and cold sensation was normal.

Nearly eight months later, she could smile.

Today, the woman has regained some -- but not all -- of her facial sensation and movement. She can use her face to express emotions such as joy or sadness.

The woman's immune system has twice rejected the donated facial tissue, and she continues to take drugs to prevent further bouts of tissue rejection. She's also gotten physical therapy.

The woman hasn't undergone formal psychological tests since her surgery. But "she says she is not afraid of walking in the street or meeting people at a party, and she is very satisfied with the aesthetic and functional results," write the doctors.

They included Jean-Michel Dubernard, MD, PhD, of the Hopital Edouard Herriot in Lyon, France.

Dubernard's team notes that since 2005, two other face transplants have been performed -- one in China in 2006 and one in France this year -- but those cases haven't been published yet.

Meanwhile, Dubernard and colleagues detail the first patient's results in tomorrow's edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Dubernard, J. The New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 13, 2007; vol 357: pp 2451-2460. WebMD Medical News: "Face Transplant Patient Recovering." WebMD Medical News: "Face Transplant Recipient Smiling."

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