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Historic surgery gives burns victim new face

Apr 08, 2009 01:06 AM IST India India

New Delhi: In a rare surgery the French surgeons replaced parts of a burn victim's face and hands last week using donor tissue. An accident in 2004 had left the man with burns that prevented him from any social life.

"It's an extremely complicated grafting because we transplanted practically the entire face at the same time, which is completely new. We transplanted the two ears, the scalp, the four eyelids, the two cheeks and the nose. That is a first. And in addition we did the two hands," said surgeon Laurent Lantieri.

The surgeons began with the hand transplant and then replaced the 30-year-old man's face from the lips up, giving him a new scalp, nose, ears, forehead and eyelids. They then reconnected the nerves, tendons, arteries and veins.

"His two hands are perfectly vascularised, there are no bruises, although there are lots of bruises on the face, as there were with the last patient. But there is absolutely nothing worrisome. All the vital indicators such as breathing are looking good. We are hopeful for the coming hours," said Lantieri.

It was the sixth facial graft in the world. Last year in a 22-hour operation, doctors in the US had practically rebuilt the entire face of a woman with severe facial trauma. And in 2006 a Chinese man whose face was disfigured after an attack by a black bear got a partial face transplant.

The first woman to get a partial face transplant was also French, a 38-year-old whose face was mouled by a dog. After her operation in 2005 , she became the posterchild for facial transplants across the world.