Sunday, May 04, 2014

An About-Face on a Risky Transplant

When the world’s first face transplant was performed in France in 2005, it pushed medical boundaries and made headlines. Yet the procedure’s future was very much in doubt.
The surgeons, operating on a 38-year-old Frenchwoman whose face had been mauled by her pet Labrador, had to surmount the opposition of prestigious medical societies, which declared the procedure unethical and immoral. Critics, including surgeons who had lost out in competing to do the first face transplant, said the pioneering team did not follow ethical and legal guidelines.
But the first comprehensive review of every face transplant reported since then — 28 in seven countries, counting the French case but not two done in Turkey since the review was completed — has removed many of those early doubts.
The report, published online by The Lancet on Sunday, says the procedure is generally safe and feasible, and should be offered to more patients.

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