Transplant woman's new face 'passes unnoticed'

11th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

AMIENS, France, Jan 11, 2006 (AFP) - The Frenchwoman who received the world's first partial face transplant has been able to walk unnoticed in the street, her surgeon said in an interview published on Wednesday.

AMIENS, France, Jan 11, 2006 (AFP) - The Frenchwoman who received the world's first partial face transplant has been able to walk unnoticed in the street, her surgeon said in an interview published on Wednesday.

"She can go out and buy magazines without anyone noticing her," Bernard Duvauchelle told the regional French newspaper the Courrier Picard.

The 38-year-old woman from Valenciennes in northern France, who was disfigured by a dog bite, was given a new nose, lips and chin from a brain-dead donor in the groundbreaking operation on November 27.

"Every day, she runs into people with her face uncovered, and few recognise her" as a transplant recipient, said Duvauchelle, who led the team of surgeons performing the operation.

"That may be the best proof of integration -- even though, when you look closely, you can see that something is not quite normal in the movements of her face," he added.

"The full range of expressions come back slowly. We expected it to take three to six months, and so far it has only been six weeks."

The mother of two, who cannot be identified under French privacy laws, was still under close observation by specialists in the central-eastern city of Lyon, and was to undergo further testing for a possible rejection of the graft.

Her operation unleashed a storm of media attention, with pre- and post-operation images of her face published around the globe, raising concerns that she would be unable to resume a normal life.

France's National Order of Doctors has sternly criticised the team behind the procedure, saying it had colluded in "cruel" and unethical media coverage.

The high-risk operation was carried out in the northern city of Amiens by a team led jointly by Duvauchelle and by French transplant pioneer Jean-Michel Dubernard.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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