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April 23rd, 2010
11:49 AM ET

First full face transplant successful in Spain

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

Doctors in Spain say they have performed the world's first complete face transplant  according to European news agencies.

The patient, a man injured in a shooting accident, had been unable to breathe or swallow, and had difficulty speaking, the BBC reported. He was a farmer who shot himself in the face in 2005, the Times of London said.

He had undergone nine failed operations before being considered for the transplant, the BBC said.

The transplant operation took place in Barcelona in March, but the details were just announced. The patient received cheekbones, nose, lips and teeth from a donor.

The medical team's leader, Joan Pere Barret, told a news conference 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, according to Spain's El Mundo.

Although this is the first total face transplant, there have been partial face transplants in France, the United States, China and Spain. The first was when doctors operated on Isabelle Dinoire in Amiens, France, in 2005. She had been mauled by her dog.

In 2008, the United States had its first-ever near-total face transplant. Connie Culp, injured by a bullet in 2004, received the nose, upper lip, and cheekbones of a donor in a 22-hour operation at the Cleveland Clinic. Read more about Culp's case

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Pauline Mattei

    It is really wonderful to have given a new life and a new hope to that human being and to open a door on the future for a lot of other creatures!
    If it could be possible to transplant ...hearts and souls the same way...but it is not possible....the crippled hearts and souls must be taken care of by their "owners" ...
    God Bless the patient and his doctors!
    P.M.

    April 23, 2010 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. starry skye

    wait, so this guy SHOT HIMSELF IN THE FACE? And was still considered intelligent enough to spend all this money on to build him a new one?
    Shaking head.

    April 23, 2010 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. me

    that's how we roll in Spain.

    April 23, 2010 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Randoms

    Best to cultivate donors at ice hockey games.
    You will always find a face-off in the corner.

    April 23, 2010 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. U.S EZUMA

    I wish d U.S would have been d first 2 carry out such a historic transplate

    April 23, 2010 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. clarke Comollo

    I am glad to see progress in this area. If you ever knew someone who needed this type of rehabilitation you would rejoice in their accomplishments!

    April 23, 2010 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. No Doubt

    I keep watching this video over and over, fascinated and horrified. I think I might have seen the picture of the man who shot himself in the face...right after he did it...he was coherent and everything...just had the lower part of his face ripped off. IDIOT. If you're going to kill yourself, do a better job.

    April 23, 2010 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Gail

    It would really be gratifying to see some pictures of these transplant patients. I hope they are able to live normal lives afterward and not have people staring at them. I think it's wonderful that something can now be done to help people with these type of traumatic injuries!

    April 23, 2010 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. felix

    This is good news for the medical profession .I will love to read and learn more on this.Keep it up.

    April 24, 2010 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Wow..Sling

    This is great.. hope to see more stories like this in the future! -Sling from NY

    April 24, 2010 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kate from Canada

    Anything that gives a person a second chance at life is a gift – don't forget to sign your organ donor papers!

    April 24, 2010 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Randy

    Why would anyone offer this surgery to someone who shot themselves on purpose? The article doesn't specify whether or not it was accidental so we are left to assume...

    April 24, 2010 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Rrrgh

    Enough with the commercials before EVERYTHING. I wanted to see a video of the reconstruction process, but not badly enough to wait through a damned ad.

    April 25, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Davec

    This is how to regain face.

    April 25, 2010 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Paige

    This is an amazing medical advancement. http://www.newsy.com/videos/first-successful-full-facial-transplant Although it might take some getting used to, I am sure it will be easier than having no face at all and breathing/eating through a tube.

    April 26, 2010 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Dana

    Who says he shot himself on purpose? Got any idea how easy it is to have an accident with a firearm? Even if it was on purpose, so what? Clearly he meant to live or he wouldn't still be here. And he wasn't functional without the surgery. *Suicide* is illegal in a lot of places–just letting someone die when you could save them usually is too.

    October 9, 2010 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Poetry

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    May 1, 2012 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.