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Saturday 22nd October 2016

UK face transplant gets go-ahead

26th October 2006

The first ever full face transplant could happen within a matter of months after a team of British surgeons was given the go-ahead.

The research ethics committee at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead has given Peter Butler, a consultant surgeon and facial reconstruction expert, the green light to carry out four face transplants.

Following the decision, the Royal College of Surgeons has asked the hospital to delay any operation until clear guidelines have been established. There are a number of concerns over the implications of replacing a patient’s disfigured face with one from a dead person.

A year ago, French surgeons carried out the world's first partial face transplant, replacing the nose mouth and chin of Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old who had been mauled by her pet Labrador. The surgeons in France, as well as a team in the United States, are now preparing to carry out a full face transplant.

Mr Butler will select the four candidates for surgery from a possible 34 people who have approached his team to be considered for the surgery. The patients include those who have suffered extensive facial burns, or damage caused by accidents or infections.

The operation is expected to take 10 to 12 hours and would involve up to six surgeons. Surgeons remove skin, underlying fat and various blood vessels, arteries and veins from a dead donor to be transplanted onto the recipient.

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