The world’s first full facial transplant has been performed by doctors on a man who had lost not only the skin on the outside of his face, but his lower jaw and a considerable amount of bone as well. The surgery was a wild success, according to doctors who are currently monitoring the patient as he recovers from his surgery. The transplant was the first full facial transplant ever performed by doctors.
In Barcelona Spain, in 2005 a farmer whose name has not been disclosed was using a piece of industrial farm equipment when something went horribly wrong. His face was disfigured and destroyed, along with several other considerable injuries. As doctors raced to bring the man back to life, they came to the grim realization that his lower jaw was too mangled to ever hope to return to him. Though he survived and recovered, they were not hopeful that he would ever be able to live without the assistance of life support as he had no ability to breath, swallow, eat, or drink on his own. Five years passed for the unnamed farmer. Though face transplants had been performed before on patients who had been disfigured, such as a woman who had lost her face in a dog attack, there was little hope that he would ever undergo a surgery that would allow him to recover his entire face. As a result, hope for the farmer’s life returning to normal was slim. No one would guess that by mid-April the man would be the first recipient of a full facial transplant.
A team of 30 doctors from around the world worked long hours to transplant bone and tissue from a deceased donor and allow it to be transplanted onto the farmer’s face. The surgery took over 24 hours to perform from beginning to end. Fortunately for the farmer and his family, the operation was a success and he is currently recovering. Shortly after the operation, the doctors held a press conference and informed the public that the muscle tissue, lips, nose, and nerve endings. Dr. Joan Pere Barret led the team and shortly after made an important announcement that the man receiving the transplant did not look anything like the man who had donated his face. He said that for ethical reasons this was of particular importance, and should be understood immediately. If the patient does not look anything like the original, then there is no risk of putting the family of the deceased donor through any confusion about a man or woman appearing who looks exactly like their deceased loved one. The man’s face more closely resembles his old face thanks to the same plastic surgery techniques that have been around for many years. Dr. Barret concluded his speech with a call for more organ donation in the future, “To help others, not only to live but to have a good life, is a supreme act of human generosity.” Only 38 percent of licensed drivers undergo the organ donation application process. The reasons for this are varied, but many of the fears about organ donation are brought about by false assumptions about the life giving process. But thanks to the generosity of one man, this unnamed farmer can have a face and a future.