Published: Thu, April 19, 2018
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

Brittany man first to receive double face transplant

Brittany man first to receive double face transplant

The surgery has significance as it proves that people on whom a face transplant is not successful in the first attempt do have a chance of undergoing the procedure for the second time.

The hours-long operation was led by Prof Laurent Lantieri, a specialist in hand and face transplants who carried out Mr Hamon's initial surgery eight years ago.

Hamon suffers from neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic mutation which causes severe disfiguration and related complications.

Jerome Hamon is getting used to his new soubriquet "the man with three faces". But that same year - in order to treat nothing more than a common cold - he was given an antibiotic incompatible with his immunosuppressive treatment. He underwent the first transplant in the year 2010 but after six-years, his body started rejecting and his face structure started deteriorating.

Last November, the tissue in his transplanted face began to die, and Lantieri had to remove it.

Months passed by and Jerome was without face and hope. The patient, Jerome Hamon, was transplanted a new face in 2010, when he was in his mid 30s by Dr Laurent Lantieri, a plastic surgeon from the Georges-Pompidou Hospital in Paris.

In January, a new face donor was found and a second procedure carried out.

Lantieri described the condition as "the walking dead".

"If you have no skin, you have infections", Lantieri told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

"The first transplant I accepted immediately", Hamon told the news outlet. "I understood I didn't have any choice otherwise it would have ended in tragedy". The 43 year old remained in a hospital in Paris without a face for two months while a compatible donor was sought.

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Hamon said he has accepted his new face.

Lantieri said that the operation had also advanced medical science.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac of Harvard University, who has done face transplants in the US, said similar procedures would ultimately become more common, with rising numbers of patients. For this reason, the immune system will often confuse the cells of a newly transplanted body part as harmful, and attack them as they would a virus or bacteria.

This exceptional case revealed an exceptional patient. "While he was waiting he never complained, he was even in a good mood", recalled Bernard Cholley, an anaesthetist. Mr Hamon had no eyelids, no ears, no skin and could not speak or eat. He speaks with difficulty.

His new face remains smooth and motionless, with his skull, skin and features yet to be fully aligned, a gradual process reliant on immunosuppressant drugs which, it is hoped, will prevent his body rejecting the transplanted material.

Commenting on the situation, Mr Hamon said: "I feel well".

To avoid further rejection, Hamon dubbed "the man with three faces" by French media had special treatment to clean the blood prior to the transplant.

Mr Hamon was over the moon with the operation's success.

With his second transplanted face, Mr Hamon said he managed to drop a few decades.

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