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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 11:33 GMT
Face op patient asks for 'peace'
Graphic showing which part of the face was affected
The patient can eat and speak following the operation
The 38-year-old woman who last week received the first face transplant has asked to be left alone by the media.

The woman, told French newspaper Le Parisien she felt "very well".

But she added she felt "bombarded". "I have just had an operation. For the sake of my health, I need to pass these moments in peace and quiet."

After concerns were raised about the operation, French authorities have stated the medical teams involved followed all the proper procedures.

The transplant looks absolutely normal
Dr Jean-Michel Dubernard, Face transplant surgeon

The patient added: "At the moment, I feel shaken up.

"I also want my family to be left out of all this. They didn't ask to be thrown into the spotlight."

She also said she wanted to thank the whole team, "from the cleaning lady to the nurses", who had made her operation possible.

"They are all wonderful," she said.

'She looks better'

The woman lost her nose, both lips and her chin after she was mauled by her dog while she slept.

The dog was later put down, against the family's wishes.

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

She regained consciousness a day after the 21-hour operation.

Dr Jean-Michel Dubernard, one of the doctors who carried out the transplant, said the patient could eat without any problems, and that her speech had improved - although it was still not perfect.

He told RTL radio: "The transplant looks absolutely normal, and she is very happy on a psychological level, because she thinks she looks much better than before her operation."

Doctors denied the recipient was suicidal, and said she had been through a series of psychological checks before the procedure was given the go-ahead.

The transplant was also carried out as a clinical trial.

French authorities have backed the medical team.

A joint statement by the French agencies for pharmaceutical safety and the agency for biomedicine, said: "All measures were taken for the patient to be fully informed very clearly and fully about the surgical operation, its psychological risks and the constraints that it implies."

They said the patient had been informed of the need to take immunosuppresant drugs for the rest of her life, to prevent her body rejecting the transplant tissue.

She was also warned about the intense media interest which she would attract.

FACE TRANSPLANT
Graphic showing portion of face removed and transplanted on to recipient
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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