Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another Face Transplant: News, Video, and Opinion

"Spanish doctors conduct full face transplant"
CNN (April 24, 2010)
(includes video)

"Doctors in Spain say they have carried out the world's first full face transplant on a man who severely damaged his face in an accident.

"Doctors at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron University Hospital say they were able to give the man a new nose, lips, teeth and cheekbones during 24 hours of surgery.

"Thirty doctors were part of the surgery that occurred in late March.

"The patient had undergone nine failed operations before being considered for the transplant.

"The medical team's leader, Joan Pere Barret, told reporters that the patient was satisfied when he saw his new appearance. He has scars on his forehead and neck, but they will be concealed in the future, Barret said...."

"World's first ever full face transplant completed by Spanish doctors"

RussiaToday, YouTube (April 23, 2010)
video, 0:25

"Spanish doctors have successfully performed the world's first full-face transplant in a 24-hour operation carried out by more than 30 medics. The patient had lost his jaw, nose and cheeks in an accident 5 years ago, and had had to breathe and be fed through tubes since. Ten partial face transplants have so far been carried out around the world, but this was the first full operation."

Essentially the same video - extended version:

"Spain performs full face transplant"

AlJazeeraEnglish, YouTube (April 23, 2010)

"Spanish surgeons have announced that they have carried out the world's first full-face transplant.

"The hospital, in Barcelona, performed the surgery on a young man who lost his face in an accident five years ago. Since then, he'd been unable to swallow, speak or breathe properly.

"Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports."

I'm pretty sure that, as this sort of medical procedure is refined, there'll be a 'fuller' face transplant fairly soon. This reminds me of the days when reattaching severed limbs was cutting-edge medical science.

The CNN article didn't discuss ethical aspects of face transplants, but that aspect of transplant surgery has been covered elsewhere.

My own take on this - as a Catholic - is that organ transplants are okay, provided that the benefit/risk ratio is proportionate. And, donating organs on your death is "meritorous." In other words, it's a good thing to do.

We've got - what else? - rules about organ transplants, of course. For example, Catholics aren't supposed to kill somebody else to get his or her parts for a third party - or ourselves, for that matter. (A Catholic Citizen in America (May 6, 2009))

Speaking of which: Celebrities can breathe a little easier. In this case at least, the young man who got someone else's face doesn't look like the (deceased) donor. Just as well, for all parties concerned.

And, provided that ethically-challenged doctors and patients get the memo: we won't hear about Hollywood stars who were killed so that someone else could have their face.

Judging from some of the remarkably imprudent things we read about in the news, though: I wouldn't be all that surprised if someone tried, eventually.

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