Spanish surgeons 'perform world's first full-face transplant'

A team of 30 plastic surgeons at the Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, led by Dr Joan Pere Barret, took nearly 24 hours to perform the gruelling operation last month on the patient, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

In addition to  skin tissue, the patient, a farmer, received new cheekbones, facial muscles, teeth, palate, skin, nose, lips and jaw, according to the surgeons.Before the surgery, the patient was unable to swallow, speak or breathe properly after accidentally shooting himself in the face in 2005. The man, whose name hasn't been revealed, is expected to remain in hospital for at least two months.

A statement released by the hospital said: "(The patient) had been operated on nine times without satisfactory success, therefore he was considered for full face transplant. This is the first full face transplant performed worldwide, as the 10 operations performed previously had been only partial."

In fact, face transplants have been carried out in the past they have only been partial.
The world's first face transplant was carried out on a French woman, Isabelle Dinoire, in 2005. She was ravaged by her dog and received new facial tissue as well as a new nose and mouth. Since then there have been a number of such surgeries, including in China and America.

In 2008 an American woman, Connie Culp, received what was at that point the most extensive face transplant ever performed. She received skin as well as bone, muscle and blood vessel and nerve transplants.

Prof Peter Butler, the Head of the UK's Facial Transplantation Research Team which has been ready to perform a full-face transplant for several months, has praised the work of the Spanish team.

"We congratulate Dr Barret and his transplantation team in Spain on what may well be the most complex facial transplantation operation carried out so far worldwide.
Secondly I would like to wish the patient well for the future. We must also remember the family of the donor who, we understand, has helped not only the facial transplantation patient, but others, with various forms of organ donation.
"To help others, not only to live but to have a good life, is a supreme act of human generosity," he said.

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