World’s First Face Transplant Patient Dies

Sep 08, 2016 06:40 AM EDT | E.R. Cumigad

The first ever recipient of the world's first face transplant has died in France. She was 49.

Isabelle Dinoire was given a face transplant in November 2005 when she was left terribly disfigured after being mauled by her pet dog. She had no recollection of the unfortunate incident stating she was heavily unconscious after taking an overdose of sleeping pills.

It was said that the Labrador attack was an accident. The pet, finding its owner lying unconscious, was in a frantic bid to wake its owner up.

She only realized some of her facial features were missing when she tried to light up a cigarette. She was immediately rushed to the hospital.

Her injuries were so extreme that doctors at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Nord in Amiens, France opted for a revolutionary face transplant surgery instead of the usual reconstructive procedure. The team was led by Dr. Bernard Devauchelle, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Dinoire was given a new nose, mouth, and chin. The donor was a woman who committed suicide.

It took the doctors 15 hours to complete the groundbreaking surgery. It was deemed successful except for the anti-rejection treatments Dinoire would later have to endure.

Dinoire had to go through numerous anti-rejection treatments for a decade.  But the heavy doses of immunosuppressive drugs weakened her system, leading her to succumb to two types of cancer 11 years after the pioneering face transplant surgery.

According to Figaro newspaper, Dinoire died in April but authorities opted to delay the announcement of her death to respect her family's privacy.

Face transplant surgery remains controversial to this day. While it's easy for doctors to perform liver, kidney, and heart transplants, face transplant surgeries are arduous to carry out being often blocked by ethical committees.

US, China, Poland, and Spain are just some of the other countries where face transplant has been performed.

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