First full face transplant performed

April 23, 2010 at 1:05 PM
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BARCELONA, Spain, April 23 (UPI) -- A man injured in a shooting accident has received what Spanish doctors say is the world's first full face transplant.

A team of 30 doctors performed the 22-hour surgery in March, but news of the transplant was kept quiet until recently, the BBC reported Friday.

The man was recovering at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona after receiving the facial skin, muscles, cheekbones, nose, lips and teeth of a deceased donor, hospital spokeswoman Bianca Bont told the BBC.

The man was considered for a full face transplant after nine previous operations failed. He had been unable to breathe on his own, swallow or talk properly since the shooting accident five years ago.

Since the full face transplant, the patient has seen himself in a mirror and was calm and satisfied, said Dr. Joan Pere Barret, who led the surgery.

The first partial face transplant was performed in France in 2005. About 10 partial face transplants have been done since then, primarily in China and the United States.

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