Second face transplant for Frenchman in world-first

January 19, 2018
This photo taken on November 7, 2014 shows a general view of the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris where a man who received a full face transplant seven years ago had to undergo a second surgery in 2018 due to the first graft's rejection

A man whose body rejected a face transplant he received seven years ago has been given a second donor face after living nearly two months without one, French medical agencies said Friday.

It is the first time in transplant history that doctors have replaced one donor face with another, according to Olivier Bastien of France's biomedicine agency.

More than 12 years since the first-ever face graft was done, in France, it remains a high-risk procedure.

A transplant can help recipients—often victims of accidents, violence, or rare genetic disorders—to resume basic tasks such as breathing, eating and speaking, and restores non-verbal communication through smiles and frowns.

But it also means a life-long reliance on immunosuppressant medicines, to stop the body rejecting the "foreign" organ. These drugs can leave a person vulnerable to infections and cancers.

It is a rare procedure with fewer than 40 operations performed to date, and at least six patients have died.

The latest recipient, in his 40s, went under the knife at a Paris hospital on Monday, for a procedure that lasted nearly a full day, according to a joint press statement issued by the biomedicine agency and the AP-HP public hospital system.

The man's original graft had been removed in an operation on November 30, and he was kept on life support in an induced coma until the follow-up procedure.

"This graft shows for the first time... that re-transplantation is possible in the case of chronic rejection" of a donor face, said the statement.

It will be weeks before doctors can say whether the second graft has taken.

The recipient of the world's first face transplant, Isabelle Dinoire, died of cancer in April 2016, 11 years after her groundbreaking operation.

Doctors said her body had rejected the transplant, and she had lost partial use of her lips by the time she died.

Explore further: Rare tumour claimed first face graft recipient: doctors

Related Stories

Rare tumour claimed first face graft recipient: doctors

September 7, 2016
The world's first face transplant recipient, Frenchwoman Isabelle Dinoire, died of a cancer unrelated to medicine she was taking to stop her body rejecting the graft, doctors said Wednesday.

Face transplants: the ups and downs

September 7, 2016
Ten years and 36 operations later, the face transplant remains a tricky endeavour with a long list of health and mental risks to be weighed against the benefits, experts say.

Frenchwoman who received first face transplant dies

September 6, 2016
The world's first face transplant recipient, Frenchwoman Isabelle Dinoire, died in April "after a long illness", a hospital said Tuesday.

Woman disfigured by gunshot gets full face transplant

July 18, 2017
The Cleveland Clinic says a 21-year-old woman disfigured by a gunshot as a teenager has received a face transplant.

Face transplants change lives, identity

July 23, 2014
Patients are prepared to take significant risks in order to be considered for a face transplant, says Dr David Koppel, director of the largest craniofacial unit in the UK and Honorary Clinical Associate Professor in the Faculty ...

Recommended for you

Clues found to early lung transplant failure

May 21, 2018
Among organ transplant patients, those receiving new lungs face a higher rate of organ failure and death compared with people undergoing heart, kidney and liver transplants. One of the culprits is inflammation that damages ...

In breakthrough, surgeon builds windpipes from arteries

May 20, 2018
Where others failed, sometimes spectacularly, French surgeon Emmanuel Martinod has helped people whose windpipes have been ravaged by cancer and other diseases to live and breathe normally again.

Blood type O patients may have higher risk of death from severe trauma

May 1, 2018
Blood type O is associated with high death rates in severe trauma patients, according to a study published in the open access journal Critical Care that involved 901 Japanese emergency care patients.

Brains, eyes, testes: off-limits for transplants?

April 28, 2018
Since the world's first successful organ transplant in 1954—a kidney—the discipline has advanced to the point where a wounded soldier could have his penis and scrotum replaced in a groundbreaking operation last month.

Emergency treatment by older surgeons linked to slightly lower death rates

April 26, 2018
Patients undergoing emergency surgery who are treated by older surgeons (aged 60 or over) have slightly lower death rates in the first few weeks after their operation than patients treated by younger surgeons (aged less than ...

Bionic suit helps paralyzed patients stand and walk again

April 25, 2018
Patients undergoing physical rehabilitation at Rush for paralyzing injuries are being aided by a robotic suit designed to help raise people to full height and walk.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.