Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

The Face In The Mirror

By patxxoo     Jul 29, 2007 in Health
So far three facial transplants have been performed on persons with disfigurements in France and China. Now this risky surgery has come to the US in Massachusetts. The Brigham and Women's Hospital has given permission to a team to perform such operations.
The first partial face transplant was done in France on Isabelle Dinoire in Nov. 27, 2005 who had been mauled by her dog. She went through two near tissue rejection scares that were controlled with drugs and she is considered a success story. Though still she mourns the loss of her original face.
I have returned to the planet of human beings -- those with a face, a smile, facial expressions that let them communicate, she told the newspaper.
A storm of controversy raged at the time because some felt it was unethical to expose patients to the high risks involved.
Such risks included the drugs that would have to be taken by the patient to keep the immune system from rejecting the new tissue, which in turn made the risk of dangerous infections rise along with the possibility of cancer forming.
The secondary reason given against these transplants were that these patients were not facing a life-threatening reason to have them done.
On the other side of the argument was the issue that the lives of people who were severely disfigured could be changed for the better so they could possibly feel free to socialize and not feel isolated and possibly lead a more fulfilling fuller life.
Now Brigham and Women's Hospital has given permission for a team of surgeons to perform partial face transplants on certain patients that have disfigurements, only the second hospital in the US to do so. The other US site is the Cleveland Clinic and they have at this time 15 people who are potential patients though they are waiting for full-face transplants.
In the effort to lower the risks to patients that could possibly go through this procedure the Brigham doctors will only consider patients who are already on immunosuppressant drugs for other reasons such as people who have had an organ transplant or burns and other types of trauma.
A partial transplant at this time can consist of the removal of part of deceased donor's face. An example of such a surgery can include portions such as the nose, upper lip and cheek portion of the face being removed and then through a skillful reattachment surgery the tissue, blood vessels and nerves are reattached to the recipients face.
At this time Dr. Pomahac, the man who established the program at Brigham is the associate director of the hospital's burn unit. He has performed reconstruction surgeries on burn and cancer patients using the tissue grafting method used mainly today and says many are left with disfigurements.
Dr. Pomahac in not currently in contact with any patients that may qualify for this surgery instead he plans to meet with other Massachusetts doctors that may have patients appropriate for this surgery, to be placed on a waiting list after undergoing a through screening process.
When you get a drivers license in Massachusetts you have the option of consenting to be an organ donor in the case of an accident. This does not cover facial transplants, as this procedure is outside the normal expectations of an organ donation at this time.
New England Organ Bank is creating a special consent process for families of potential donors. The organ bank will seek permission from families when the deceased already is donating other organs.
For a facial transplant to be done many factors are involved such as the same blood type as with other organ transplants, but also taken into account must the race, gender, and age of both parties involved.
Some that have faced disfigurements from trauma and burns wear masks while others come to accept themselves as they now are. Either way they have a hard road to travel in today's societies idea of normal.
We have some patients with 120 [reconstructive] operations and you still look at them and it's hard to sit in front of them. Think of exchanging that for one major surgery and maybe two or three others, and you look in the mirror and you look like a human being.
More about Face transplant, Surgery scars burn, Donor tissue