Press release - 30th Nov 2005
As news of the world's first face transplant is announced, Consultant Facial Surgeon Iain Hutchison at Barts, chief executive of Saving Faces - The Facial Surgery Research Foundation, comments:
This is the first facial transplant of the modern era. All medical advances are to be celebrated, but this operation throws up many moral and ethical issues. This was a 'quality of life' operation rather than a life-saving operation and has many implications for the recipient and donor's families.
The recipient chose to take the risk of the operation failing if the blood vessels become blocked, there's a medium-term risk of the immuno-suppressant drugs failing to control rejection of the donor tissue, and a long-term risk of the drugs causing cancers. She could be back to square one without a face, needing further reconstruction operations.
For the donor's family there are other issues - the facial skin and fat will have been removed while the donor's body was kept alive. And grieving becomes a very difficult issue.
It's a huge dilemma to choose who should receive a face transplant.
For media enquires, please contact the Saving Faces office.