Man gets world's first hands, face transplants in France
A man was able to receive transplants of both hands and face simultaneously in a 30-hour-surgery.PARIS – A patient in France received the world's first simultaneous transplants of a new face and both hands including the wrists, the hospital where the surgery took place announced Monday.
The recipient of the transplants is a 30-year-old man who was severely burned in a 2004 accident, said a spokesperson for the Henri Mondor Hospital in Creteil, a suburb southeast of Paris.
The operation – requiring a medical team of 40 – took place over the weekend of 4 April and lasted 30 hours, the spokesperson told AFP by phone.
There have been five other face transplants in the world to date, three of them in France. The most recent was completed on 27 March at the same hospital.
But this is the first time that a transplant of both hands and the face has been completed simultaneously.
The face transplant was performed by Laurent Lantieri, who had already successfully completed two such operations, including the one at the end of last month.
In that case, Lantieri replaced most of the face of a 28-year-old man severely disfigured by a shotgun blast.
In a 2007 operation, the recipient was a 29-year-old man, known as Pascal, who suffered from a rare genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis that had covered much of his face in a disfiguring tumour.
The team that transplanted the wrists was led by Christian Dumontier, a surgeon at the Saint-Antoine Hospital in Paris.
The first successful face transplant was performed in France in 2005 on Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old woman who had been mauled by her dog.
A Chinese man who underwent a facial transplant in China in 2006 after being attacked by a bear died in 2008. No autopsy was performed, so the exact cause of death is not known.
Face replacement surgery is fraught with problems, medical experts say. Powerful drugs are needed to inhibit the immune system so that the transplanted tissue is not attacked by the body's defences. Heavy use of immunosuppressors also boosts the risk of cancer.
Hand transplants have become more common, with several dozen completed over the last decade. Only a few have failed.
In both types of surgery, nerves and the main vessels that carry blood to the face are connected under a microscope.
Microsurgery carries a five-to-10 percent risk of transplant failure from clots that may form within the connected blood vessels in the first few days after surgery, studies have shown.
Potential psychological reactions must also be taken into account. In the case of the world's first hand transplant, recipient Clint Hallam, a convicted con-man, begged to have the new limb cut off because he viewed it as alien.
AFP / Expatica