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Green Signal given to Full-Face Transplants

Prof Peter Butler, a pioneering plastic and reconstructive surgeon has been given the go-ahead for full face transplantation //by the ethics committee of the Royal Free Hospital, London to select four patients for the first, ground-breaking operations.

However the Royal College of Surgeons has called for caution with leading surgeons voicing their concerns about face transplantation.

The surgery promises to transform the lives of hundreds of people who have been forced to live with severe facial disfigurement, mostly caused by burns and for whom standard reconstructive surgery is of no further benefit.

Prof Butler expressed his relief and delight at having been given permission and stated that he would start "the more important task, the selection of the right patients".

He stressed upon the need for a slow and cautious approach saying that the selection of patients and their preparation would require at least three to four months and it could take a year before the first operation took place.

Sir Peter Morris, chairman of the facial transplantation working party of the Royal College, has written to Prof Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England, calling for "minimum requirements" before any unit or institution contemplates undertaking a face transplant.

The college, in a statement, said, "We would urge the trust [Royal Free] not to allow this surgery to proceed before the review has taken place.We believe that facial transplantation should only take place if all the minimal requirements we will set out can be met."

According to Prof Butler he had met the committee and was "very pleased" with their statement commenting that the Royal Free had agreed to more than meet minimum standards. He said, "You need to be a recognised transplant centre and a recognised plastic surgery centre. We have in addition our own psychological department. It is right that, initially, face transplantation sho
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