Twelve years ago, a team of surgeons in France successfully completed the first-ever face transplant procedure. Unfortunately, seven years after the history-making surgery, the patient's body rejected the transplant.
‘French doctors made headlines 12 years ago when they conducted the first-ever face transplant. Now, another team has made medical history with the world's first "re-transplantation".’
The man was kept on life support in a medically induced coma after his original graft was removed in November last year. France's biomedical agency and the national hospital service stated that this incident shows that re-transplantation is possible in case of chronic rejection of a donor's face.
Since the rejection occurred, the patient has been living without a suitable alternative. In a risky move, surgeons decided to attempt to transplant a second face, this time from a different donor. It's still too soon to say whether or not this transplant will be accepted, but the surgery itself was successful.
The operation took close to 20 hours, starting on 15 January early afternoon and ending on 16 January early morning. More than 30 face transplants have been carried out since 2005, on people whose facial structures have been disfigured from genetic issues, violence or accidents.
While an impressive surgical feat, face transplantation is incredibly high-risk and entails a lifetime of complications, possible infections, surgery, medications, and the constant threat of possible rejection. Still, recipients have often lost so much that to undergo the procedure restores more than just tissue.