First face-transplant patient appears before the media

The first person to receive a face transplant appeared before the media on Monday, declaring that she was poised to live a normal life after the historic operation nine weeks earlier.

In a press conference before scores of journalists and television cameras, Isabelle Dinoire (38)—whose name had previously been kept secret under French law—said she was making good progress since the groundbreaking surgery, and hoped to return to work.

“Since my operation I have a face, like everyone ... I will be able to resume a normal life,” she said.

Dinoire received a triangular-shaped graft, comprising the nose, lips and chin from a brain-dead donor, to replace parts of her face that had been mauled by a dog in May.

She appeared to wear thick makeup to disguise the scars of the operation, and a lack of movement in her lips forced her to speak with a heavy lisp, but she was otherwise comprehensible.

Dinoire, wearing a black top and pink cardigan, paid tribute to the family of the donor who had given its consent to the graft, and to the surgical team that carried out the operation.

“My operation will enable others to live again,” she said.

The operation on November 27 was conducted by Bernard Devauchelle, a professor of facial surgery at the Amiens hospital.

He worked with Jean-Michel Dubernard, a surgeon at the Edouard Herriot hospital in Lyon and a French deputy, who performed the world’s first hand transplant in September 1998, followed by the first double hand and forearm transplant in January 2000.

After the operation, she remained in convalescence at the Amiens hospital, spending her time knitting, exercising on a bicycle-machine—and, Devauchelle admitted last month, smoking. - AFP

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