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Monday 22nd January 2018

Support for face transplants

14th November 2006

06102006_organ_donation2.jpgPatients who undergo a facial transplant may face a 50-50 chance that their bodies will reject the graft.

Despite this the Royal College of Surgeons has reversed its stance against full face transplants, as long as stringent criteria is met.

But the specially convened expert working group has warned that some patients may be left with worse disfiguration than before if they have to have their new face removed.

Recipients will also have a massive risk of a range of diseases including cancers, due to the high doses of immunosuppressive drugs given to prevent rejection.

Three years ago the group concluded full transplants should not be carried out citing huge medical, psychological and ethical issues.

Now it has relaxed its view, saying transplants could go ahead and has created 15 ‘minimal requirements’ to be met before surgery is carried out, including the stringent counselling of potential patients.

It comes after Peter Butler, a consultant surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in London, was given permission from the ethics committee at the hospital to carry out four full face transplants as a clinical study.

Last year French woman Isabelle Dinoire underwent a partial face transplant which has so far proved successful. Mr Butler may now carry out the world’s first full face transplant, once a suitable candidate and donor is found.

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