Woman who received world's first partial face transplant dies: Other cases of face transplants

Ms Isabelle Dinoire, who was the first person to receive a face transplant, died on Sept 6, 2016.
Ms Isabelle Dinoire, who was the first person to receive a face transplant, died on Sept 6, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

The recipient of the world's first partial face transplant, Ms Isabelle Dinoire, died at the age of 49 in April "after a long illness", a French hospital revealed on Tuesday (Sept 6).

In 2005, Ms Dinoire, then 38, received a graft comprising the nose, lips and chin of a brain-dead donor to replace parts of her face that had been mauled by her dog.

Last year, French newspaper Le Figaro reported that her body had rejected the transplant "and she had lost part of the use of her lips".

The report added that the drugs she had to take to prevent her body from rejecting the transplant left her susceptible to cancer, and two cancers had developed.

The transplant operation was controversial at the time, as surgeons Dr Jean-Michel Dubernard and Dr Bernard Devauchelle had chosen not to conduct traditional reconstructive surgery before carrying out the transplant.

Survivors of face transplants have to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives, which can take a toll on their health.

Here are some other cases of face transplants in the world.

1. COSTLY SURGERY AFTER SHOT IN THE FACE

This was one of the most extensive face transplants ever attempted.

Mr Richard Norris had accidentally shot himself in the face with a shotgun in 1997 when he was 22. He was so disfigured that no amount of conventional surgery would help.

Fifteen years later, a 21-year-old man was killed in a traffic accident and his grieving family donated his face to Mr Norris.

After a procedure that took 36 hours and involved 150 doctors and nurses at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, he received a new face.

It included two to three inches of the donor's hairline, forehead, eyebrows, nose, cheekbones, jaw, lips, teeth and tongue.

"For the past 15 years I lived as a recluse hiding behind a surgical mask and doing most of my shopping at night when fewer people were around," he said in a statement months after the surgery.

"I can now go out and not get the stares and have to hear the comments that people would make... I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look."

In 2015, Mr Norris met his donor's sister for the first time. Their meeting was captured on video by news programme 60 Minutes Australia.

2. US FIREFIGHTER INJURED IN BLAZE


Surgeon Eduardo Rodriguez (left) looks on as Patrick Hardison, a former firefighter from Mississippi, speaks during a press conference at New York University Langone Medical Centre on Aug 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Before undergoing a complex face transplant surgery in 2015, doctors told Mr Patrick Hardison that he had a 50-50 chance of success.

The medical team had practised for a year before the surgery. "You only have one chance to land the Rover. The same goes with the face," said the plastic surgeon who led the operation.

Finally, after a 26-hour operation, Mr Hardison received a full scalp and face, including ears, nose, lips and upper and lower eyelids.

More than 100 doctors, nurses and medical support staff were involved in the surgery at the NYU Langone Medical Centre.

His donor was 26-year-old David Rodebaugh, a BMX extreme bicycling enthusiast who was pronounced brain dead after a cycling accident.

Mr Hardison, 42, was a volunteer firefighter in Mississippi when the roof of a burning home collapsed on top of him in 2001.

He lost his eyelids, eyes, lips, most of his nose and his hair. He also had disfiguring third-degree burns across his face, head, neck and upper torso. His skin was so badly damaged that he was not even able to close his eyes completely, according to reports.

In August, Mr Hardison marked the first anniversary of the surgery. He said in a press conference that he feels normal again and even managed to swim for the first time in 15 years.

3. POLISH MAN'S LIFE-SAVING TRANSPLANT

In 2013, a 33-year-old Polish man's life was saved after a face transplant was performed just weeks after his face was torn off in a workplace accident.

The procedure is believed to mark the fastest time-frame between needing a transplant and getting an operation, reported the BBC. Previous transplants required months or years to prepare.

Initially, doctors tried to reattach the man's own face. But their efforts failed and part of the area close to his brain was left exposed. To save his life, the man, who is known only as Grzegorz, underwent a face transplant.

The surgery took 27 hours and reconstructed the man's face, jaws, palate and bottom of his eye sockets.

Six days after the surgery, he was photographed making a thumbs-up gesture from his hospital bed.

4. WORLD'S FIRST FULL FACE TRANSPLANT

After nine failed operations, a Spanish man received a full face transplant - the world's first - at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in 2010.

During 24 hours of surgery that involved 30 doctors, the unidentified man received a new nose, lips, teeth and cheekbones, reported CNN.

The man had severely damaged his face in an accident.

The doctor who led the surgery, Joan Pere Barret, said the man was satisfied when he saw his new appearance.

Barret said: "The patient asked to see himself one week after the surgery, and he reacted very calmly and with satisfaction, and when we asked him - in writing, because we communicate with writing and gestures - he said he was very grateful and satisfied."