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New Face Transplanted On French Man

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, March 24, 2008 12:36 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Organ Rejecting Drugs, Transplants, Drug Products

The French undergo the first full face transplant, a technique that could soon come to the U.S. 




IMAGE SOURCE: WikiMedia Commons/ Nevit Dilmen   

The surgery for a face transplant is very rare and France is leading research into this type of procedure.

Now French surgeons have performed the first ever full face transplant.

30-year old Pascal Coler suffered from a rare condition, neurofibromatosis, that created tumor growth all over his face, distorting his features.

That is the same disease that afflicted the character in the movie, The Elephant Man. The Telegraph in the UK has a full set of pictures of Coler, even as a young child.

He essentially lived as a recluse in France until doctors called saying they had a face donor. 

The operation took 16 hours during which they removed tumors down to the bone and placed the donor face on top of the skeleton, then connected arteries, veins and nerves.

But when it was done Coler had a new face, remarkably similar to what he might otherwise look like despite the new lips, cheeks, nose and mouth. He talks about his transplant in French to News of the World.

That’s because no new bones were grafted onto his facial skeleton. In his case, he did not reject the skin because of powerful immunosuppressive drugs. 

When his mother and sister saw his new face, Coler said to ABC, "both burst into tears of absolute happiness. It was one of the happiest days of their lives."

This is the first full face transplant.   A partial face transplant was covered by ABC News which did a video story of Isabelle Dinoire.  She was mauled by a dog two years ago. After 15 hours of surgery she had a new face that looked remarkably similar to her original face. 

In 18 months she eventually gained sensitivity in her face and learned again to use her facial muscles.

During the grueling recovery, twice kidneys failed and twice her body has rejected the skin transplant. She will have to remain on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.

In this country, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is trying to set up a program to do facial transplants and is looking for donors and patients. 

Coler says he would now like to have the normal life that has so far eluded him.

He would like to get married and have children and plans to start a job as an accountant.

His doctor says he has no trace of the disease that caused his facial tumor growth.  #



Anonymous User
Posted by wwtuman
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 7:01 AM EST

The "elephant man" did not have neurofibromatosis - it's generally agreed that he had "proteus syndrome," a completely different condition.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 10:30 AM EST

ABC News reports that while Coler suffers from neurofibromatosis, an extremely rare condition --"The Elephant Man" known in real life as Jospeh Merrick, was long believed to have suffered from the same disorder, although in recent years the prevailing theory is that Merrick suffered from a similar, but much rarer, condition known as Proteus syndrome.

Comments for this article are closed.

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