French surgeons give man new nose, mouth, chin
PARIS – French doctors announced Tuesday that they had performed the world’s third partial face transplant on a man whose face was disfigured by severe tumors, giving him a new nose, mouth and chin and replacing part of his cheeks.
Going into the 15-hour operation Sunday, the 29-year-old patient had such large, heavy tumors on his lips that it was difficult to speak or eat. The operation removed most of the tumors from his face, doctors said.
“The patient is doing well from a surgical point of view,” chief surgeon Dr. Laurent Lantieri said at a news conference.
Still, he added, “We will have to wait many months for the results” – including whether the patient’s body would accept the tissue, whether his new nerves would function correctly and whether he would psychologically accept his new face.
The patient suffered from a genetic condition known as neurofibromatosis, which causes tumors to grow on nerve tissue throughout the body, the doctors said.
Despite the lifelong risks that a transplant surgery poses – episodes of rejection or even death – the patient “didn’t hesitate a single second,” Lantieri said. New tumors cannot grow on the transplanted tissue, he said.
Lantieri carried out the operation at Henri-Mondor hospital in the Paris suburb of Creteil. The patient remained sedated Tuesday, and still had not seen a picture of himself. The doctor did not release any information about the patient or the donor, seeking to protect their privacy.
Doctors in Britain and the United States are also working toward similar procedures.