Photos Reveal What Man Who Has Undergone 2 Full Facial Transplants Looks Like Today
As if modern-day surgery wasn’t amazing already, a truly incredibly operation recently took place. The Independent explains Frenchman Jérôme Hamon now stands as the only person ever to successfully receive two full facial transplants. He left the hospital in early April after he was cleared following the second operation.
He’s now known as “the man with three faces” — but why did Hamon need such extensive reconstructive surgery in the first place? We have the details here (including how he feels about his new face on page 6).
1. Hamon has a rare genetic disorder that affected his face
Neurofibromatosis is the genetic disorder that caused Hamon a great deal of pain and disfigurement. Mayo Clinic explains the condition causes tumors to develop on nerve tissue, and they can grow anywhere in your nervous system. The good news is the tumors are usually benign and mild — but in Hamon’s case, his symptoms were severe.
Next: Here’s what really happens when you go under the knife for this extensive surgery.
2. Here’s how a facial transplant works
There’s a reason only a handful of facial transplants have ever been performed, and that’s because of the intense nature of the procedure. The Telegraph explains the donor face is taken from a brain-dead person who has similar skin tone and tissue type and the same blood type as the person who needs the new face. They should also both be close in age.
During the surgery, one team peels away the muscle and skin of the brain-dead person’s face, while a second team takes care of doing the same on the recipient’s face. The facial tissue is then connected via the arteries and veins, and the facial nerves are also matched up.
Next: The risks of this surgery are numerous.
3. It’s an incredibly risky surgery — and not just physically
Like other organ transplants, the risks for this type of surgery are numerous and can be severe. The Telegraph explains immunosuppression drugs are given to the transplant recipient to take for life. These powerful drugs keep the body from rejecting the foreign tissue, but they can also increase the chance of developing heart disease or cancer.
The potential physical issues aside, there are also the psychological effects to consider. Patients will have to accept that they won’t look anything like they used to, which can be hard to digest.
Next: Here’s what happened to Hamon’s first transplanted face.
4. His body rejected the first facial transplant
It’s not rare for a body to reject a new organ — and this can include facial skin. Unfortunately for Harmon, his first facial transplant that he received back in 2010 didn’t last, Business Insider reports.
The immunosuppressive drugs did their job as they were supposed to, but everything went down hill when Hamon caught a cold in 2015. He was prescribed a medication that interfered with his anti-rejection drugs. By November 2017, his facial tissue started dying, so he had no choice but to remove it.
Next: Luckily, another donor was available for Hamon.
5. He now has ‘three faces’ thanks to his second facial transplant
It took months for Hamon to get a new face after his first transplant rejected, leaving him in a state without eyelids, ears, and skin. Fortunately, a new compatible donor did arise — and the new face has seemed to do well so far, Business Insider says.
As of now, the face hasn’t fully aligned with Hamon’s skull, but that should improve with time. And Hamon even joked that he’s 20 years younger now, since the donor was 22 and Hamon’s 43.
Next: Here’s how Hamon feels about all of his significant surgeries.
6. Hamon’s spirit, even when he was without a face, is remarkable
Though his new face remains relatively motionless as features are still aligning, Hamon’s in high spirits with his “third face,” the BBC reports. “If I hadn’t accepted this new face it would have been terrible. It’s a question of identity,” Hamon said. “But here we are, it’s good, it’s me.”
Even the surgeons who worked on Hamon are amazed by his high spirits. “I’m amazed by the courage of a patient who has been able to get through such an ordeal,” said anesthesiologist Bernard Cholley.
Next: Hamon is the first to undergo two facial transplants, but others have received new faces in the past.
6. Hamon isn’t the first to undergo a facial transplant
Facial transplants are still brand new in the medical world, with the first being a partial transplant in 2005. And the world’s first full facial transplant took place in March 2010 (the same year as Hamon’s first). A man who goes by “Oscar” accidentally shot himself in the face in 2005 and was operated on five years later, The Guardian reports.
Today, Oscar has regained most of the feeling in his face and movement in the muscles. He suffered acute rejection twice, but his anti-rejection meds were able to save him. Here’s hoping Hamon has similar luck with his second transplant.
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