The world's first face transplant patient, Isabelle Dinoire, is jeopardizing her chances of recovery by puffing away at cigarettes. Her doctors fear that since she is using her new lips to smoke, there is every chance of tissue rejection as well as delayed healing, which could prove to be a complication.
"It is a problem," said Dr Jean-Michel Dubernard, who led the French team of doctors in performing the first ever face transplant on November 27. The 38-year-old Frenchwoman's face had been badly mauled by her Labrador last spring and she decided to undergo a face transplant. Her doctors, who are currently lecturing at a conference in Tucson, Arizona, feel that the operation was a success despite the risk of rejection due to this renewal of smoking by the patient. Initially her face had started turning red or getting inflamed due to the immune response from her body, but doctors had managed to contain this by increasing the dose of steroids. Now it has emerged that smoking could also harm her chances of a full recovery. Professor Bernard Devauchelle said that Ms Dinoire had made good progress, "She can swallow and eat. That was impossible before the surgery," Dr Dubernard said. MRI tests also showed proof that sensation was returning to her face. The team of French doctors is planning for five more face transplants.