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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Woman who received the world's first partial face transplant dies at 49


A French woman who underwent the world’s
first partial face transplant has died in hospital
aged 49 after a long illness.
Isabelle Dinoire, who lost her mouth and nose
after a dog bite, made medical history in 2005
when she was given a partial face transplant
using tissue from a brain-dead woman in a 15-
hour operation at Amiens Picardie hospital.
Dinoire died in April, Le Figaro revealed, which
was confirmed by doctors in Amiens who said
they had not previously announced her death to
protect her family’s privacy.
Doctors did not reveal the exact cause of death.
Le Figaro reported that Dinoire’s body had
rejected the transplant last year “and she had
lost part of the use of her lips”.
The drugs that she had to
take to prevent her body
from rejecting the
transplant left her
vulnerable to cancer and
two cancers had
developed, the paper said.
At the age of 38, Dinoire received a triangular-
shaped graft, comprising the nose, lips and chin
from a brain-dead donor, to replace parts of
her face that had been mauled by her pet cross-
labrador.
Dinoire, a divorced mother of two, later
explained the circumstances that led to her
losing half her face. After a bad week, Dinoire,
who was a seamstress, had taken a large dose of
sleeping pills “to forget” her troubles. She woke
on her sofa and tried to light a cigarette, and
then noticed blood and the presence of her dog
beside her. Looking in the mirror, she
discovered her terrible injuries.
For months before the transplant, she had “the
face of a monster”, she said. She had no mouth
and her teeth and gums were exposed, skull-
like, in a “reminder of death”. Most of her nose
was missing. But she said she had no hatred for
her dog Tanya, who she felt had been trying to
save her.
It was through British press reports that she
discovered her donor had killed herself. She
said she felt a bond to her “twin sister” through
their suicidal urges. “That it was someone who
wanted to die, like me … It’s odd to know that
she saved me,” she said.
After the transplant she said she was
determined to make a success of her life,
learning to eat and speak and also wanting to
be able to kiss.
Two years after the transplant she described in
a book that the hardest thing was accepting the
inside of “someone else’s” mouth. “It was odd
to touch it with my tongue. It was soft. It was
horrible.”
She said of the discovery of a hair on her chin:
“It was odd. I’d never had one. I thought, ‘It’s
me that has given it life, but the hair is
hers.’Sometimes I put my hand to my face to
check that it’s still there.”
Since Dinoire’s partial face transplant, more
than 30 people worldwide have had similar
treatment.
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