First face transplant patient dies

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A French woman who underwent the world’s first partial face transplant has died in hospital aged 49 after a long illness, reports The Guardian.

Isabelle Dinoire, who lost her mouth and nose after a dog bite, made medical history in 2005 when she was given a partial face transplant using tissue from a brain-dead woman in a 15-hour operation at Amiens Picardie Hospital. The report says it was revealed that Dinoire died in April, which was confirmed by doctors in Amiens who said they had not previously announced her death to protect her family’s privacy. Doctors did not reveal the exact cause of death. But reports said that the drugs that she had to take to prevent her body from rejecting the transplant left her vulnerable to cancer and two cancers had developed.

At the age of 38, Dinoire received a triangular-shaped graft, comprising the nose, lips and chin from a brain-dead donor, to replace parts of her face that had been mauled by her pet cross-labrador.

Dinoire, a divorced mother of two, later explained the circumstances that led to her losing half her face. After a bad week, Dinoire, who was a seamstress, had taken a large dose of sleeping pills “to forget” her troubles. She woke on her sofa and tried to light a cigarette, and then noticed blood and the presence of her dog beside her. Looking in the mirror, she discovered her terrible injuries.

For months before the transplant, she had “the face of a monster”, she said. She had no mouth and her teeth and gums were exposed, skull-like, in a “reminder of death”. Most of her nose was missing. But she is quoted in the report as saying she had no hatred for her dog Tanya, who she felt had been trying to save her.

After the transplant she said she was determined to make a success of her life, learning to eat and speak and also wanting to be able to kiss.

The report says since Dinoire’s partial face transplant, more than 30 people worldwide have had similar treatment.

Full report in The Guardian

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