In the news today is the story about Pascal Coler. He received the first FULL face transplant. He had spent much of his life horribly disfigured by Von Recklinghausen's disease. It is a rare genetic disorder suffered over 100 years ago by Elephant Man Joseph Merrick (played by John Hurt in the movie). I am watching this procedure with much fascination at the possibility for improving someone life. This case is a great example. Yes, there is the great risk with this procedure, but in this man's case and in his words
"My chance had finally come. Even with the risk of dying, there was no question of me hesitating."
The surgery took 16 hours and was done by French surgeon Laurent Lantieri and his team. First all the growths were removed before carefully removing the rest of Pascal's face, cutting over the left eyebrow, across and under the right one, and then down and around in a complete oval. Then they carefully connected tissues, nerves, arteries and veins before sending him back to the ward. For more of the story and pictures of Pascal before and after go here (photo credit) and here.
Dog attack victim Isabelle Dinoire was given the world's first partial face transplant in 2005.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the first in the United States to receive permission for the procedure (2008). Similar operations have been performed in France and China.