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I have a face like everyone else

The French woman who received the world's first partial face transplant, speaking with a heavy slur and obvious emotion, said at her first news conference on Monday that she is looking forward to resuming a normal life and can feel her new features.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 01:44 IST
AP
AP
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The French woman who received the world's first partial face transplant, speaking with a heavy slur and obvious emotion, said at her first news conference on Monday that she is looking forward to resuming a normal life and can feel her new features.

Isabelle Dinoire still appears to have trouble moving her lips. But where she once had a gaping hole from a dog mauling, Dinoire now has a face and only a surprisingly faint scar around her nose, mouth and chin where surgeons stitched on a mask of tissue from a donor. Before the 15-hour surgery in Amiens on November 27, her lipless gums and teeth were permanently exposed, and most of her nose was missing. Food dribbled from her mouth. She wore a surgical mask in public to avoid frightening people.

"Since the day of my operation, I have a face like everyone else," Dinoire said, reading from a prepared statement. She thanked the family of the donor, whose heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys were distributed to other patients.

"Despite their pain and mourning, they accepted to give a second life to people in need," Dinoire said. "Thanks to them, a door to the future is opening for me and others."

The 38-year-old mother of two said she was eager to return home to her teenage daughters and find a job. "I want to have a normal life again," she said. Dinoire's doctors said they have asked French health authorities for permission for five more similar transplants. Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard said they wanted "to give this operation to many other people in France and in the world."

Dinoire, still hospitalised for physical therapy, said she was regaining sensation and that she was not in any pain. "I can open my mouth and eat. I feel my lips, my nose and my mouth," she said. During the news conference, while one of her surgeons was speaking, she drank from a plastic cup — a simple gesture that produced a flurry of camera flashes.

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 01:44 IST