A Polish patient whose doctors claim has received the world's first life-saving face transplant appeared in public for the first time Tuesday as physicians said he was ready to leave the hospital and go home.
Identified only as Grzegorz, the 33-year-old man wore dark sun glasses and walked with ease, but was unable to make himself understood when speaking to reporters at a hospital in Gliwice, southern Poland.
The man, an employee at a stonemason's workshop, was severely maimed on April 23, when a machine used to cut stone ripped out a large chunk of his face.
The transplant -- without which physicians claim Grzegorz would not have survived -- took place on May 15 during a marathon 27-hour-long operation during which he remained fully conscious.
The patient's "speech should be back to normal within nine months," Professor Adam Maciejewski, who led the team of transplant surgeons, told reporters.
Grzegorz can "see, read and taste flavours," his sister Barbara said, adding that he requested roast duck for his first meal back at home.
French doctors carried out the world's first successful face transplant in 2005 on Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old woman who had been mauled by her dog, although her life was not in danger.
Since then, over 20 other transplants have been carried out worldwide, including in Belgium, Spain, Turkey and the United States.