A rare genetic disorder left one man with tumors on his lips so large he could barely speak or eat. But now, he has just come out of surgery with a brand new face, including tear ducts and stubble that grows on his chin. The face transplant surgery was the 12th in the world, performed by a French surgeon Dr. Laurent Lantieri, who is one of very few surgeons to have performed face transplants before. The 35-year-old man, Jerome, underwent surgery in late June, the operation lasting about 24 hours at a hospital in a Paris suburb.
The doctors have now focused on getting Jerome to reintegrate with the world, with a new face, and a whole new life ahead of him. "He is very happy, but that is not the final goal for us, a pretty picture. The final goal for us is social re-insertion," Lantieri told the Associated Press. The doctors were proud to have completed this surgery, the first of its kind to involve so many different facial features. Although they do not guarantee that Jerome's face will be completely flawless, they agree it will be a great leap forward. Dr. Lantieri notes that they will have to keep a close eye on the patient (no pun intended) in order to make sure his eyelids will be functioning properly, as the intricacies of the eyelid and its functions are many.
Like all other things, many who were skeptical of these types of surgeries in the beginning, have now warmed up to the idea, especially bioethicists and doctors' groups who have seen reconstructive surgery fail on some patients.
This is a great confirmation of what we have been able to accomplish in the medical field, and the opportunities that will arise provide an avenue to explore that even further. The prospect of using a deceased donor's face and placing it on another human is an extraordinary feat that does not only affect one human's life, but it spreads a message worldwide, demonstrating the potential we have to continue to grow and flourish as an entire human race.