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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 14:38 GMT
Face op woman braves media glare
Isabelle Dinoire

The French woman who received the world's first partial face transplant has appeared before the cameras of the world's media for the first time.

Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old mother of two, received the transplant on 27 November after being mauled by her dog.

She told a news conference in the French city of Amiens, where she underwent treatment, the surgery had helped her regain a normal life.

She said being able to go out in the streets had given her courage.

Mrs Dinoire lost her nose, both lips and her chin after she was mauled by her pet Labrador while she slept in June last year. The dog was later put down, against the family's wishes.

At the news conference on Monday, she spoke with difficulty. Fine scar lines ran from her nose over her cheekbones down to her jaw and she seemed to have difficulty closing her mouth.

Mrs Dinoire described the moment when she first saw her disfigured face after being bitten by her dog. She said she had taken medicine to forget personal problems, which knocked her out.

"When I woke up, I tried to light a cigarette, and I didn't understand why I couldn't hold it between my lips," she said. "I looked at myself in the mirror, and there, horrified, I couldn't believe what I saw - especially because it didn't hurt."

Mrs Dinoire said her disfigurement caused her "psychological and physical pain".

Courage

She said that she was stared at when she went out with her children and realised that a transplant operation could help change that.

Isabelle Dinoire says she now has courage to face the future

Mrs Dinoire said that three days after the transplant surgery she was able to go out into the streets of Lyon.

"That has given me great courage," she said.

"At the moment I can open my mouth and eat and use my lips and nose as well. However, I have to continue my exercises and take medication to exercise all my facial muscles."

She thanked the medical team who treated her and the family of the transplant donor.

Facial tissue from a donor from Lille, who was brain-dead, was used in the operation to repair the severe damage to Mrs Dinoire's face.

British facial surgeon Iain Hutchinson paid tribute to Mrs Dinoire's strength of mind.

"I can see how courageous this woman is, and how she was able to gamble, to take a leap into the dark - a leap into the dark because the face transplant might have failed, and may still fail," he told BBC World. "The body may reject it. And she will have an increased risk of cancer as a result of it."

Her surgeon Dr Bernard Devauchelle told a French newspaper last month there were plans for five more face transplants.

FACE TRANSPLANT
Graphic illustrating face transplant technique
1 Triangle of skin and muscle tissue is cut away from donor's face
2 Blood vessels and nerves from face section are connected to recipient using microvascular surgery




SEE ALSO
Woman has first face transplant
30 Nov 05 |  Health
Q&A: First face transplant
30 Nov 05 |  Health

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