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Wednesday, November 30, 2005 

"Face/off"...and back on again

Doctors in France perform partial face transplant
Okay, so it's not quite Travolta/Cage switching places, but it's a start.
French doctors on Wednesday claimed a world-first partial face transplant, saying a nose, lips and chin were grafted onto a 38-year-old woman disfigured by a dog bite.

The woman was in "excellent" condition and that the transplanted organs look "normal," the statement said. She wants to remain anonymous, it said.

Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard, one of the surgeons who collaborated on the transplant, told The Associated Press when reached Wednesday that the transplant was the world's first of its kind.

Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants in the past. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

The woman was disfigured by a dog bite in May that made it difficult for the woman to speak and chew, the statement said. Such injuries are "extremely difficult, if not impossible" to repair using normal surgical techniques, it added.

The organs were taken from a donor who was brain dead, with the family's consent, the hospitals said.

I'm a big advocate of organ donation, but I wonder if this would creep me out a bit if I was the donor's family. I'm curious how much she'd resemble the donor from the nose-down? I'd assume her own bone structure must play a part in that, so that it's not exactly the same as the donor. I hope they show some pictures once she heals. Since it's only the bottom half of her face, they could easily block out the top portion to conceal her identity.

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About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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