The surgery was complete by 4:30 p.m. The recipient is still at the hospital and is taking immune-suppressive drugs but has shown no signs of rejection.
The patient, who will look neither like herself or the donor, has not yet seen her new visage but has felt it with her hands. "I must tell you how happy she was when we brought her hands to her face and she could feel she has a jaw, has a nose, has a full face in front of her," Siemionow said. "When the swelling goes down, she will be able to recognize her face."
"Our hope is that once the facial nerve is connected and grows through, that she can smile again," Papay added.
Dr. Risal Djohan, a plastic surgeon and another member of the team, read a letter from one of the woman's siblings. "We never thought for a moment our sister would ever have a chance at a normal life again," the missive read. "But thanks to the wonderful person who donated herself to help another, now she has a chance to live a normal life."
The Cleveland Clinic has more on the procedure.
SOURCES: Dec. 17, 2008, teleconference with Maria Siemionow, M.D., Ph.D., director, plastic surgery research, and head, microsurgery training, Cleveland Clinic; Eric Kodish, M.D., chairman, department of bioethics, Cleveland Clinic; Francis Papay, Ph.D., chairman, dermatology and plastic surgery institute, Cleveland Clinic; Risal Djoh
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