Monday 14 October 2019

Face transplant 'quickest ever'

The 33-year-old patient gives a thumbs-up gesture after undergoing surgery in Gliwice, Poland (AP)
The 33-year-old patient gives a thumbs-up gesture after undergoing surgery in Gliwice, Poland (AP)

A 33-year-old Polish man has received a face transplant just three weeks after being disfigured in a workplace accident in what his doctors have described as the fastest time frame to date for such an operation.

Face transplants are extraordinarily complicated and relatively rare procedures that usually require extensive preparation, usually months or years.

But medical officials said the patient's condition was deteriorating so rapidly that a transplant was seen as the only option.

It was Poland's first face transplant. The patient is now being watched for any potential infections.

The patient worked at stonemason's workshop near the south-western city of Wroclaw where on April 23 a machine used to cut stone tore off most of his face and crushed his upper jaw.

The man, identified only as Grzegorz, received intensive treatment at a hospital in Wroclaw, but an attempt to reattach his own face failed, leaving an area close to the brain exposed to infections, said doctors.

The damage was too extensive for doctors to temporarily seal the exposed areas. So he was taken to the Cancer Centre and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, which is the only place in Poland licensed to perform face transplants.

Doctors at the centre said the 27-hour face and bone transplant was performed on May 15 soon after a matching donor was found. The surgery reconstructed the area around the eyes, the nose, jaws and palate and other parts of the man's face.

The donor, a 34-year-old man, was chosen from a national registry of potential donors after his age, gender, blood group and body features were determined to be a good match for the injured man.

Lead surgeon Dr Adam Maciejewski declared the operation a success. He said: "We assume the surgery will allow the patient to return to normal life. He will be able to breathe, to eat, to see."

PA Media

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