Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Man left faceless for 2 months undergoes second transplant after first deteriorates

Man left faceless for 2 months undergoes second transplant after first deteriorates

Hamon, then in his mid-thirties, suffers from a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 1 that caused tumors on his face, severely disfiguring it.

A FRENCHMAN has become the first person in the world to undergone two face transplants in under a decade.

It was 2016 when Hamon started to show clinical signs of chronic rejection of his first face transplant.

It was in last summer that he was admitted to a hospital and in November, doctors removed his face due to irreparable necrosis. The man had no eyelids, no skin, no ears, he could not eat or speak, had limited hearing and could only communicate by turning his head and a little bit of writing.

Plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, Frank Papay told Associated Press, "The fact that Professor Lantieri was able to save this patient gives us hope that other patients can have a backup surgery if necessary". "I made up my mind very quickly", Hamon told a French daily.

Surgeons in France perform the second face transplant on Jerome Hamon. Before doing so, doctors had to replace all of the blood in Hamon's body in a procedure that took a month, in order to eliminate all potentially worrisome antibodies from Hamon's treatments.

Anesthetist Bernard Cholley said that any individual who loses their face and afterward needs to sit tight for a speculative transplant for an obscure timeframe - that is something that nobody has ever needed to experience here. Lantieri said, "For a man who went through all this, which is like going through a nuclear war, he's doing fine".

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Hamon's first face was donated by a 60-year-old.

Following the ground-breaking double, Jerome Hamon, 43, said: "If I hadn't accepted this new face it would have been awful". Finally, the medical team got informed about a donor in January, who was a 22-year old man who had died many kilometers away from Paris. "So I've become 20 years younger", he said. His body accepted the new face. It's a question of identity. "But here we are, it's good, it's me".

Other doctors, too, described the procedure as a breakthrough.

The first face transplant happened in France in 2005.

The first operation of Jerome was a success but his condition got complicated when he was given antibiotics for common cold that were incompatible with his immunosuppressive treatment. He said it's still unknown how long face transplants might last, but guessed they might be similar to kidneys, which generally last about 10 to 15 years.

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, hopefully, will prevent his body rejecting the transplanted material.

"The more we see what's happening with [face transplant] patients, the more we have to accept that chronic rejection is a reality", Dr Pomahac said. "Face transplants will become essentially non-functional, distorted and that may be a good time to consider re-transplanting".

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