First successful full face transplant in the world performed in Barcelona

4 months after the surgery, the patient is said to be "happy" with his new image. The Vall d?Hebron Hospital of Barcelona performed the operation. It is the 1st full face transplant, after 13 partial face transplants in the world.


July 27, 2010 12:57 AM

Barcelona (CNA).- The first person in the world to ever receive a full face transplant feels "happy" with his new image. This is what the patient himself, Òscar, said about his surgery. The pioneer operation was carried out four months ago in the Vall d’Hebron Hospital of Barcelona. The patient has thanked the team of over 30 professionals that made the transplant possible, as well as the donor family and his own. His recovery has been successful, though he suffered two transplant rejections that have been solved. Òscar began talking again two months ago and can already drink liquids and food purees. At present, he can move parts of his face but it will take as much as 18 months before he will achieve total mobility.
The patient was released from the hospital this Monday after being there for 4 months. The surgery consisted of a transplant of all the skin and muscles of the face, including the eyelids, nose, lips, upper jawbone, teeth, palate, cheekbones and jawbones. In order to achieve the transplant, plastic surgery and fortifying microsurgery were used, including surgery of veins and nerves.

The patient’s sister explained that her brother wishes more than anything to start a new life and to be able to do things that people usually do such as going for a stroll without anyone looking at him and being able to sit at the table at a family lunch. He added that he has many desires to hunt and fish, which were two of his interests before suffering the accident that provoked a severe deformity in his face, blocking him from being able to breath out of his nose and mouth and loosing much of his ability to swallow and speak. The patient as well as his sister have congratulated the medical team for their work.

Two rejections after the intervention

His recovery has been positive despite the fact that Òscar had 2 severe transplant rejections. The 1st one was 4 weeks after the surgery and the 2nd one happened between the 2nd and the 3rd months following the operation. The Head of Plastic Surgery and Burnt Patients Service of Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Joan Pere Barret, who directed the surgery’s multi-disciplinary team, has explained that both cases were solved. Òscar has also suffered other side effects, such as a double vein thrombosis, saliva accumulation and a coagulum.

Òscar is slowly recovering his face mobility and currently he can already move his eyebrows, superior eyelids (although he cannot close his eyes yet, but he will be able to do so in the future), jaw and external face muscles. Despite all of these improvements, he cannot close his mouth yet and can only eat liquids and puréed food. Barret has assured that Òscar will be able to eat normal food and smile without problems. From now on, the patient needs to follow physiotherapy sessions, as well as classes to improve his speech articulation. He will also have pay weekly visits to the hospital for regular checkups. In addition, he will have to take medication for his entire life to prevent infections. Barret has said that he expects the total recovery to come within a year to a year and a half.

The doctor has stressed that the patient’s integration with his new image has been "fantastic". His sister has ensured that Òscar keeps some facial features of his former face and she has added that Òscar and all the family have accepted his new face without problems. The medical team considers that the patient is psychologically ready to go home, although he will have to follow strict supervision.