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Medicine Science

The World's First Full Face Transplant 193

Dave Knott writes "A thirty-member Spanish medical team has achieved the world's first full face transplant. There have been ten previous similar operations, but this is claimed to be the first total transplant, replacing all of the face including some bones. The unnamed recipient originally injured himself in a shooting accident, and received the entire facial skin and muscles — including cheekbones, nose, lips and teeth — of a donor. The complex operation involved extraction of the donor's face, followed by removal of the jaw, nose, cheeks and parts of the eye cavities. Then the medical team took all of the donor face's soft tissue, including musculature, veins and nerves. In order to transplant the face, the medical team has to connect four jugular veins, extract bones and join all the musculature and blood vessels. The recipient has had a chance to see himself in the mirror, and is reportedly satisfied with the results. It is unknown whether he now looks more like John Travolta or Nicolas Cage." The pictures and videos in the linked articles are all computer-generated at this point, so the squeamish need not worry.
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The World's First Full Face Transplant

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  • The Results? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hags2k ( 1152851 )
    I would be interested to see before/after pictures of the recipient.
  • The donor? (Score:5, Funny)

    by urusan ( 1755332 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:47PM (#31958808)

    Where did they get a spare face? Faces are rather hard to come by.

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:49PM (#31958852) Homepage Journal

    it seems that dick cheney is still about.

    • I'm pretty sure it was a shotgun suicide attempt with an airsoft.

    • Make sure you keep the camp fire burning through the night and sleep with your eyes open! It's said that the Cheney still lurks in these woods! BOOGAABOOOGAABOOOO!!!!!
  • FBI Special Agent Sean Archer now has a new weapon against you.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The unnamed recipient originally injured himself in a shooting accident...

    Dick Cheney needs to stop shooting his friends in the face.

    How on Earth does he even get friends in the first place?

    • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:19PM (#31959264)
      This was always my reaction to Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote [wikipedia.org]. Every week for 12 years, one of her closest friends would get knocked off, and she would have to step in and solve the murder. And yet she still had friends! You'd think after a while people would figure out that being her friend was hazardous to their health, wouldn't you? Personally, I would have suspected she was offing them herself and framing other people for it pretty early on.

      So, what exactly do you think the reaction down at the country club is like when Cheney rolls in and asks, "Hey! Anybody wanna go huntin'?"
      • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

        This was always my reaction to Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote. Every week for 12 years, one of her closest friends would get knocked off, and she would have to step in and solve the murder.

        She must be the most successful serial killer of all times because every time she moves somewhere a murder happens shortly after that. And she gets away with it too. Coincidence? I think not.

        I'm also surprised that there are still some people alive in Midsomer.

      • It's like the village where Miss Marple lives, it must have the highest murder rate in the world. Ever.
    • He threatened to shoot me in the face!

      Help! I want out!

  • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:50PM (#31958866) Homepage

    Just wait until this becomes a cosmetic procedure for the rich. A few years of refinement and advances in microsurgery, and then they'll be raising clones of rich people in jungle compounds down in Brazil...

    • by Jahava ( 946858 )

      Just wait until this becomes a cosmetic procedure for the rich. A few years of refinement and advances in microsurgery, and then they'll be raising clones of rich people in jungle compounds down in Brazil...

      That and/or having attractive poor people selling their faces on the black market...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      Right, because anti-rejection drugs and a face full of nerve damage are waaaaay better than a few wrinkles.

      • Right, because anti-rejection drugs and a face full of nerve damage are waaaaay better than a few wrinkles.

        I won't respond on the anti-rejection drugs... but a face full of nerve damage? That's par for the course [dancewithshadows.com] for people who use modern medicine to remove wrinkles.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Why not, people already spend crazy amounts of money to remove a few wrinkles at the expense of turning their face into an expressionless mask either by cutting small muscles out or injecting a potent neurotoxin.

        I personally think it's all a terrible idea, but it wouldn't be the first time someone risked their life doing something incredibly stupid in the name of vanity.

    • Pretty sure I can think of a half-dozen novels with exactly this setup.

  • Let me know when the first successful full head transplant takes place.
    • It's not the same, but I saw a documentary about a decapitated monkey. The researches removed the head from the monkey, and attached a whole set of tubes from the head to the body for blood flow, but the airways and nervous system was 'disconnected.' The body was on artificial life support systems. The monkey was kept alive for a significant period of time. It was at least half a day, maybe several days (I can't recall), before they decided to kill it. The monkey would look around, follow objects with

      • Now that I think about it more, it may have even been the body of one monkey, and the head of another. It's been at least ten years since I saw the documentary, so I could be very wrong about that part. And yes, there was lots of video footage showing the monkey during the whole procedure, from preparation to death.
      • Here we go. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

        In 1963, a group of scientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio,[3] led by Robert J. White, a neurosurgeon and a professor of neurological surgery who was inspired by the work of Vladimir Demikhov, performed a highly controversial operation to transplant the head of one monkey onto another's body. The procedure was a success to some extent, with the animal being able to smell, taste, hear, and see the world around it. The operation involved cauterizing arteries and veins carefully while the head was being severed to prevent hypovolemia. Because the nerves were left entirely intact, connecting the brain to a blood supply kept it chemically alive. The animal survived for some time after the operation, even at times attempting to bite some of the staff.[4] In 2001, Dr. White successfully repeated the operation on a monkey.[5]

      • There's a video of this with a dog's head. It's fucking creepy (and possibly fake--some controversy over that, but either way it freaks me out).

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_transplant [wikipedia.org]

      The most disturbing part of this article is that it even has a "History" section.

      • WTF

        creating the world's first man-made two headed dog.

        Dammit - every time I think I've figured out a way to get into the Guiness book, I always find out somebody's already done it.

  • Simply astounding! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDSalinger ( 911918 ) * on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:56PM (#31958962)
    Despite it being 2010, it remains popular to attack science and medicine as though they do not have a significant mastery of reality or how the body works. Achievements like this demonstrate that the human body is not only understandable, but that it can be highly manipulated and changed with life-changing degrees of success.

    For all the people who claim that our medical knowledge is seriously lacking or fraught with error, this fly's in your face. Prepare for an onslaught of biomedical advances that will change everything we know about health and longevity. While the human body may seem to work like black magic, perhaps like an infinitely complex analog circuit, advances in understanding are steadily being made. There are real achievers in these domains and they are standing on the shoulders of giants, accruing the tools to solve any physiological problem.
    • I don't think that's really an argument that anyone makes around here. Few /.ers would attest that the body works like "black magic".

      Though the Americans might argue that its difficult to get access to any of these biomedical advances.
    • OK, but why is there a fly in my face?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Although I agree with you in general, I think people tend to go too much to extremes on both sides of this issue. Yes, we know a lot about the human body, how it works, and we know how to do a lot of stuff to it, but there is still tons of stuff we don't know.

      Even some of the stuff/treatments that we do "know" we don't really know what we are doing. As a real life example, I take generic Flonase for allergies. It is basically a steroid that you shoot in your nose. It works great and I am glad that som

      • I knew a guy a few years back who basically "knew" that in his lifetime (he was around 35 at the time, probably about 40 now) that we would have the medical techonolgy to live for ever.

        There are a lot of those Kurzweil worshipping morons around /.

        • by sznupi ( 719324 )

          Morons worshipping things that promise them direct continuation via resurrection or, more generally, eternal life is an old, widespread phenomena.

    • We're still playing around in the dark, quite a bit. What about the monkeying around that does not succeed and results in rejections? When I hear a transplant nonrejection rate of 99.99%, then you can claim you know what you're doing, exactly. Biology is very complex, and we're playing Russian roulette a lot of the time, simply because the other option of not playing Russian roulette is even worse. There is still a lot of people dying of cancer. And of old age. Unfortunately when you fully figured out with
  • "Show us the gross half of your face, that's what we all came to see."
  • by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:02PM (#31959038) Homepage

    It begs the question: What's wrong with your faaaaaaace?

    • It begs the question: What's wrong with your faaaaaaace?

      What was that from again? It's going to bug me all day until I figure it out.

  • by goffster ( 1104287 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:12PM (#31959186)

    A 30 member medical team is willing to reconstruct the face of someone who
    blew his own face off. I wonder how much that cost?

    I wonder how much it costs to vaccinate a single child
    against yellow fever ?

    • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:14PM (#31959204)
      While I get your point in all of this there is also the fact that the research value of this is well worth their time too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrMista_B ( 891430 )

      Hey, you know this computer you're using to post to Slashdot?

      Yeah, I wonder how much it costs to vaccinate a single child, indeed, hypocrite.

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      How much did it cost to develop the vaccine for yelllow fever?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by roman_mir ( 125474 )

      Hold on, you have just spent time reading about this on /. and commenting, but you could have been outside, helping the needy!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by izomiac ( 815208 )
      Yep, it's a real shame those surgeons don't spend more time fixing the world's political problems. I mean, why develop or pay for costly procedures, it's not cost effective at all! For the price of a single patient on NovoSeven we could save many thousands from malaria. Aborting a single high-risk pregnancy could save enough money to pay for proper prenatal care for dozens of low income women. Allowing a single child to die of leukemia rather than perform a costly bone marrow transplant could put every
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:16PM (#31959252)
    as you won't recognise them afterwards to get it back.
  • There is no truth to the rumor that the recipient is now referred to by his friends as "that two-faced bastard."
  • talk to me when they can replace a whole head. Now that would be something!

    • Child's play. Now, a full body replacement from the neck down, that would be something!
      • Or a full body transplant 100% so you can take one person then replace them with another compete person.

        My boss just read the above and said he can do that if I keep posting to slashdot.

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:40PM (#31961178) Journal

    The last first was first until this first came along and included *some* bones.
    This first will be the first until the next first included more bones.
    I think they're on to something here. Not only have they found a way to generate repeating headliners, they can do so farther and farther by redefining 'face'.

    'Researchers today performed the first really really for real face transplant. The previous first removed enough skin from the front side of the person so that their navel was pulled upwards to serve as a third nostril. In this record shattering surgery, the skin was pulled even farther upwards, so that now her pubic hair serves as a beard. According to Dr. Rob Zombie they have yet to solve the problem of the patient urinating onto her dinner plate from her chin. "We tried a diaper, but then she couldn't breathe." Dr. John Carpenter stated "We don't expect to have the problems that we previously with this patient, specifically her negative reaction to having three nostrils. This time we're 'replanted' [their term for transplants performed on the same person but involving different locations] most of the old evolutionary hold-overs that were previously user to define 'face'. We find it highly unlikely the patient will state objections to having a beard on her face if she can't see in a mirror. We moved her eyes around back to make room for the beard." Dr. Zombie added "And if she does, so what? If we don't want to listen to her, we've moved her mouth too. We'll just make her sit down. It wasn't strictly necessary to move her mouth that far, but we had to do something. It was impossible to work with all that screaming going on."

  • Now that I've got this new face and you don't know what I look like any more, I'm gonna make you pay for what you did to my first one, Mister Cheney! I was kinda attached to it.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton