French face transplant patient 'doing well'

2nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

LYON, France, Dec 2 (AFP) - A French woman who has received the world's first partial face transplant is in good health, the surgeons who carried out the operation said on Friday.

LYON, France, Dec 2 (AFP) - A French woman who has received the world's first partial face transplant is in good health, the surgeons who carried out the operation said on Friday.

She is "doing well, physically, immunologically and psychologically," Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard, a transplant pioneer who performed the first double hand graft, told reporters in the central-eastern city of Lyon.

"The patient saw her face on Monday morning and thanked us," added Professor Bernard Devauchelle.

The 38-year-old woman had lost both lips and her nose after she was mauled by a dog in May, and was unable to speak or eat properly.

Doctors transplanted a nose, chin and mouth taken from a brain-dead donor onto her lower face on Sunday, a world first for an operation that carries high medical risks.

"We had a very good surprise in terms of the colour of the skin," said Devauchelle, adding, "We will know within four to six months whether the patient will regain full sensitivity" in the transplanted area.

The patient was disfigured when her dog tried to wake her during a suicide attempt, her daughter told AFP.

"She had taken pills, she was unconscious. When the dog realised that, it tried to wake her," the 17-year-old from the northern French town of Valenciennes, who did not wish to be named, said late Thursday

"After that we don't know what happened with the dog, whether it bit or clawed her, but it managed to pull her awake. In a way, it was lucky for her that the dog was there," she said.

Her mother, aged 38, lost both lips and her nose in the incident in May, which left her unable to speak or eat properly.

The dog, a cross between a labrador and a beauceron, was put down -- against the wishes of the family who wanted to keep it, according to the daughter. They have since taken another, smaller, dog.

Before the operation, the young woman said her mother had "little by little accepted" the fact of being disfigured, but was forced to wear a surgeon's mask in public and sometimes faced mockery from strangers.

"The hardest part was to be seen by other people. People did not know what was wrong with her and asked stupid questions, like whether she had bird flu."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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