In a historical but controversial transplant surgeons have transplanted almost half of face taken from a brain dead donor in France.
A brain dead woman's skin and tissue from the lips, nose and chin was taken and transplanted to a woman whose own face had been savaged by a dog.
Doctors have clarified that the face the woman is going to have finally will be a 'hybrid' face and not resemble the donor's face.
If accepted the real benefit of such procedures are likely for burn victims.
However a transplant surgery means that the patients would have to cope with lifelong immuno-suppressive drugs so that the tissue is not rejected.
The skin is especially known to require more immuno-suppression and one cannot be sure how well the muscles under the skin will behave. This may limit the facial expression of the recipient. For the brain dead donor's family the face removal surgery has to be conducted while the patient is still on ventilator and this means that the body when handed will be without tissues on the face. What are the psychological impacts on the donor's family has also to be looked into before accepting this form of surgery.
The 36-year-old French woman had surgery that lasted for five hours. Before surgery the woman had extensive counseling session to ensure that this was right for her.