Paris: French doctors have carried out a
successful full-face transplant -- eyelids, tear ducts and all
-- on a 35-year-old man, the hospital where the operation took
place confirmed on Thursday.
Doctors carried out the 12-hour operation June 26 and
27 on a patient -- identified only as "Jerome" -- afflicted
with a face-disfiguring genetic disorder.
The head surgeon, Laurent Lantieri, described the
surgery as a world first because it included a difficult and
unprecedented transplant of tear ducts and eyelids.
A similar procedure carried out in Spain earlier this
year replaced most of the face, but not the tear ducts.
Lantieri, who has already performed four other partial
or nearly-complete face transplants, told AFP before the
operation that reconnecting tear ducts and replacing eyelids
was the "extremely challenging."
"My patient is doing well. He is walking, eating,
talking. His beard has started to grow back on his new face,"
said Lantieri, who operated on Jerome at the Creteil
Henri-Mondor hospital in the Paris suburbs.
"The first time he looked at himself in the mirror he
stuck both thumbs up," he told a local newspaper, the
Parisien. "He was waiting for this transplant for two years.
He is very happy."
Lantieri`s team operated on another patient suffering
from the same genetic disorder, a type of neurofibromatosis
called Von Recklinghausen`s disease, in 2007.
In that case the tumour was so massive and hideous
that the man could neither eat or speak properly.
Less then 13 months after the transplant, however, the
man was working fulltime and considered himself to be
reintegrated into society.
A face transplant involves the removal of the entire
face from a corpse, including mouth and eyelids, and grafting
it onto the patient. Nerves and blood vessels are connected
under a microscope.
"We are the first to have done a full-face transplant
including eyelids and tear ducts. I am proud because this has
been done in France," Lantieri was quoted as saying.
The surgery required a team of ten people, fewer than
for previous cases, he added.
Other doctors have also claimed to have carried out a
In April, a 30-strong team at the Vall d`Hebron
University Hospital in Barcelona said they had conducted a
full-face transplant on a young man disfigured in an accident.
There have about a dozen partial or complete face
transplants recorded to date, five of them -- including the
first, in 2005 -- in France.