Articles Posted in Face Transplant

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The Associated Press reported today that a Texas construction worker, whose face was completely disfigured by third-degree burns suffered when he fell into an electrical power line, successfully underwent the nation’s first full face transplant in a Boston hospital last week.

Dallas Wiens, 25, received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and nerves from a recently-deceased person. The operation was paid for by the United States armed forces, which is trying to learn more about how to help soldiers who suffer disfiguring facial wounds.

In March 2010, doctors in Spain performed the first full face transplant in the world on a farmer who was accidentally shot in the face, and could not breathe or eat on his own.

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Face transplant is an advanced medical procedure that involves replacing part or all of the patient’s face with a donor (cadaver) face.

Face transplant can be a partial transplant in which only a section of the tissue is taken from the donor and given to the patient who is receiving it (recipient). It can be a full face transplant in which the entire face is transplanted or the face and the underlying scalp are transplanted. Face transplant is similar to other organ transplant in which the immune system may reject the transplant. The immune system will attack and destroy any tissue that it recognizes as foreign. Even if there is a match in tissue between the donor and recipient, there is still the possibility of rejection. Such patients will have to be on drugs that suppress the immune system for a long period of time. These immune suppressant drugs will increase the risk of infection. There are other risks involved in face transplant such as risks related to surgery like infection.

The world’s first partial face transplant was carried out in November of 2005 in France for a patient who had her face ravaged by her dog, the operation was successful, it took 15-hours and the patient is fine now. The donor of the face should be a person who is on life support who has brain death with no hope of recovering (the face tissue has to be viable receiving blood supply); this may be a concern as the family of the donor must be willing to turn off the life support machine.

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