Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 20:01 GMT
Part of human eye grown in cheeks
The surgery aims to grow part of a human eye in the cheek
An elderly man is recovering after an operation to bring back his sight by implanting part of a human eye inside his cheeks.
Doctors claim it is the first operation of its kind in the UK.
It involved planting two tiny artificial lenses in 76-year-old Cecil Creed's cheeks and sewing a piece of lining from his lip on his right eye.
The lip material is expected to give bulk and thickness to the eye which will help the lens to fix onto it.
In around two months, one lens will be inserted into the eye after a hole is bored through the centre.
The other will be kept in Mr Creed's cheek fo rmany years as a spare.
The operation is his last chance of having his sight restored after he lost it in a chemical accident when he was a child.
One eye was so badly damaged that it could not be saved and Mr Creed, from the Wirral on Merseyside, has had three failed corneal transplants on the other.
The cheek operation, carried out at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, was pioneered by Italian surgeon Dr Stephano Pintucci.
He came over to Nottingham to lead the operation and show UK specialist Professor Harminder Dua how to do it.
The fabric allows Mr Creed's own tissues to grow around the lenses.
This means that they should stand less likelihood of being rejected than if the tissue was from a foreign donor.
Professor Dua said: "Because the cells have come from the host this method allows us to heal the plastic lens with living tissue."
After the operation on Wednesday morning, a hospital spokesperson said: ""Everything went very well today and Mr Creed is recovering well.
"He will remain at the QMC for the next couple of days before being sent home for around six weeks."
If the operation is successful, doctors hope to set up two UK centres which will operate on tens of people annually.
Mr Pintucci says he has treated five times as many patients as expected since pioneering the treatment.