Rafael Face Transplant Patient

A Spaniard who had one of the world's first partial face transplants has spoken of his joy on seeing his new visage.

Speaking at a press conference at a hospital in Seville, the patient named only as Rafael said: 'I am full of joy and happiness. I want to thank the family of the donor and the medical team.'

And Dr Gonzalez Padilla said the patient 'recognised himself' when he first saw himself in a mirror after the surgery, adding: 'He didn't see himself as a monster, in fact he thought he looked younger.'

Rafael was the second person in Spain and the ninth in the world to receive a partial face transplant.

He appeared before the media at the Virgen del Rocio Hospital in the southern city, where he underwent a 30-hour operation on January 26 and 27.

He has since been released from hospital, feels pain, heat and cold in his face, and has started shaving.

Rafael still has difficulty in talking clearly as he is not expected to regain complete control over his tongue for another three months. His face is still inflamed.

He told reporters he is a fan of Seville football team Real Betis and is looking forward to going back to their stadium to watch a match.

Rafael appeared at the press conference alongside his mother Juana and sister Belen, who held his hand throughout.

He asked for his privacy to be respected, saying: 'Please, after this press conference I want you to leave me, my family and my friends in peace.'

The doctors said the transplant involved the patient receiving donor tissue for the lower two-thirds of his face.

The first part of the transplant involved removing the facial tissue, blood vessels and nerve endings from the donor. The second part involved attaching them to the patient.

The doctors said receptors do not end up with the face of the donor, as the tissue adapts itself to the bone structure of the receptor.

Rafael spent five weeks in intensive care and a week in the burns unit before being moved to a regular hospital bed on 15 March.

Surgeon Tomas Gomez Cia, who lead the transplant team, described the patient as 'an incredibly brave person'.

He said: 'It is difficult enough for us to appear before all these cameras, so you can imagine how Rafael feels.'

The team of plastic surgeons spent a year practising for the operation on dead bodies and 3D computer simulators.

Juan David Gonzalez Padilla, director of maxillofacial surgery at the hospital, said: 'He has recovered his sensitivity in the lips, the cheeks, he can distinguish cold and heat, and he's even shaving, something which he wasn't able to do before because of his illness.'

He added that Rafael 'is already swallowing normally', within three months he will have normal mobility in his face.

Rafael suffered since birth from the congenital disease neurofibromatosis type 1, formerly known as von Recklinghausen disease, a genetic problem which causes cells to grow abnormally. He had benign tumours on two thirds of his face as a result.

Dr Gomez Cia said for Rafael 'there was no reconstructive alternative except for a tissue transplant from a dead donor'.

Since Rafael's operation, surgeons in Barcelona have carried out the world's first full face transplant.

A farmer whose face was deformed in a shooting accident five years ago was the patient at the city's Vall d'Hebron Hospital.

A team of 30 took 24-hours to complete the operation in late March. The patient has not been identified.

Isabelle Dinoire was given the world's first facial transplant in November 2005 in France. Her original face had been ravaged by her pet dog.

Four partial face transplants have been carried out in France, two in the U.S. and one in China.

Spain's first partial face transplant took place in August 2009 in the Hospital La Fe in Valencia, when a 43-year-old man received facial tissue from a 35-year-old donor who had died in a car crash.

Source:- huffingtonpost And Reuters
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1 comments for this post

  1. Anonymous

    Which one had the transplant on the pics?

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