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Green Signal given to Full-Face Transplants

uld be limited to centres of excellence."

Isabelle Dinoire, 38, who had been savaged by a dog, received the lips, nose and chin of a donor was the recipient of the first partial face transplant last year. Her surgery was successful and she began to regain sensation within weeks.

Prof Butler's team has already been approached by 34 hopeful patients. He said, "We are looking at people who have lost all their facial tissue and who have had 50 to 70 reconstructive procedures already. Plastic surgery has nothing further to offer them.

"In other words, surgeons cannot work on them any more. They may have problems with eyelid and mouth opening and closure, they may not have any hair, their ears may have gone, been destroyed or damaged.

"Most of them just want to be able to walk down the street without being stared at. The French say their patient says she can walk down the street and no one looks at her. It is actually what she wanted to do. You can't say more than that."

Each operation is expected to cost £20,000 and anti-rejection drugs, another £5,000. The Face Trust, a charity was launched yesterday to raise the necessary money. Each operation will last almost 12 hours and with six surgeons working with the donor and the recipient.

Prof Butler said that if an operation fails, research conducted by them has shown that the patient would be no worse off. The patient could be offered another transplant, treatment with artificial skin or more standard plastic surgery after a waiting period of six months at least. No cases of acute rejection had been reported in 24 hand transplants.

Donors for the transplant would be people on the national donor register. Recipients and donors would be matched for tissue type, as with organ transplants, but also for skin color and tone and gender.

Prof. Butler commented on the changing opinion nowadays after French surgeons reporting that bereaved families offered face
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