Doctors in Spain early Wednesday successfully completed the country's first face transplant and only the eighth such operation to have been carried out worldwide, the health ministry said.
A 43-year-old man received a new face from a 35-year-old man who died in a traffic accident in the operation at the Hospital La Fe in the eastern city of Valencia which lasted 15 and a half hours and involved more than 30 medics, it said in a statement.
''The patient is progressing nicely although we will have to wait 24 or 48 hours to see how he reacts,'' the head of healthcare in the Valencian regional government, Manuel Cervera, told a news conference.
The first successful face transplant was performed in France in 2005 on Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old woman who had been mauled by her dog.
Three others have since been carried out in France, two in the United States and one in China. Two of the patients, one in France and the other in China, have died.
Rafael Matesanz, the director of Spain's National Transplant Organisation which gave the green light for the procedure in June, said the operation was a ''very important milestone for Spanish medicine''.
''While it took a decade for kidney and liver transplants to reach our country, now we are the fourth country to carry out this type of operation and it has only been three years since the first one,'' he told the online edition of daily newspaper El Mundo.