Man with 3 faces: Frenchman gets 2nd face transplant

  • Apr. 17, 2018 11:40 a.m.

LONDON — In a medical first, a French surgeon says he has performed a second face transplant on the same patient — who is now doing well and even spent a recent weekend in Brittany.

Dr. Laurent Lantieri of the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris first transplanted a new face onto Jerome Hamon in 2010, when Hamon was in his mid-30s. But after getting ill in 2015, Hamon was given drugs that interfered with the anti-rejection medicines he was taking for his face transplant.

Last November, the tissue in his transplanted face began to die, leading Lantieri to remove it.

That left Hamon without a face, a condition that Lantieri described as “the walking dead.” Hamon had no eyelids, no ears, no skin and could not speak or eat. He had limited hearing and could express himself only by turning his head slightly, in addition to writing a little.

“If you have no skin, you have infections,” Lantieri told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “We were very concerned about the possibility of a new rejection.”

In January, when a second face donor for Hamon became available, Lantieri and his team performed a second face transplant. But before undergoing the second transplant, doctors had to replace all of the blood in his body in a monthlong procedure, to eliminate some potentially worrisome antibodies from previous treatments.

“For a man who went through all this, which is like going through a nuclear war, he’s doing fine,” Lantieri said. He added that Hamon is now being monitored like any other face transplant patient.

Hamon’s first face was donated by a 60-year-old. With his second transplanted face, Hamon said he managed to drop a few decades.

“I’m 43. The donor was 22. So I’ve become 20 years younger,” Hamon joked on French television Tuesday.

Other doctors applauded the French team’s efforts and said the techniques could be used to help critically ill patients with few options.

“The fact that Professor Lantieri was able to save this patient gives us hope that other patients can have a backup surgery if necessary,” said Dr. Frank Papay, of the Cleveland Clinic. He said the techniques being developed by Lantieri and others could help doctors achieve what he called “the holy grail” of transplant medicine: how to allow patients to tolerate tissue transplants from others.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac of Harvard University, who has done face transplants in the U.S., said similar procedures would ultimately become more common, with rising numbers of patients.

“The more we see what’s happening with (face transplant) patients, the more we have to accept that chronic rejection is a reality,” Pomahac said. “Face transplants will become essentially non-functional, distorted and that may be a good time to consider re-transplanting.” He said it’s still unknown how long face transplants might last, but guessed they might be similar to kidneys, which generally last about 10 to 15 years.

“Maybe some patients will get lucky and their faces will last longer. But it will probably be more common that some will have to be replaced,” he said, noting there are still many unknowns about when chronic rejection might occur.

Lantieri said he and his team would soon publish their findings in a medical journal and that he hoped cases like Hamon would remain the exception.

“The other patients I’m following, some have had some alteration of their transplant over time, but they are doing fine,” he said. “I hope not to do any future transplants like this.”

Just Posted

Pioneer life at Red Deer museum

Sunnybrook Farm Museum teaches students

Red Deer College student receives scholarship

Funding from Canadian Hearing Society

Central Alberta school districts are graded on their no-smoking policies

ASH wants them to tighten restrictions on tobacco, vaping, as well as cannabis

Free film shown in Red Deer Thursday to celebrate Recovery Day

A free film will be shown in Red Deer on Thursday about… Continue reading

Calder School takes shape in Red Deer

Sunnybrook Farm Museum’s latest addition

Hushing my buzz: Alberta finance minister says cannabis warehouse will be secret

EDMONTON — Alberta is starting to stockpile marijuana but isn’t saying where… Continue reading

Relatives mourn death of Calgary-area woman killed by pet dog protecting child

CALGARY — Relatives of a Calgary-area woman killed by her own pet… Continue reading

Florence death toll climbs to 37; Trump visits stricken area

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The death toll from Hurricane Florence climbed to at… Continue reading

Toronto election proceeding with 25 wards after court sides with province

TORONTO — Ontario’s top court has sided with the provincial government in… Continue reading

Scheer welcomes former Liberal MP Alleslev to Conservative caucus

OTTAWA — Andrew Scheer is trying to fire up his Conservative troops… Continue reading

Trudeau says Canada wants to see ‘movement’ before signing revised NAFTA deal

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signalled today that Canada wants more… Continue reading

Uber driver suing Bucs’ QB Winston over groping incident

PHOENIX — A female Uber driver in Arizona is suing Tampa Bay… Continue reading

Thousands of fans request grand jury probe of Prince’s death

MINNEAPOLIS — Thousands of Prince fans are asking federal authorities to open… Continue reading

Most Read