Near-total human face transplantation for a severely disfigured patient in the USA

Maria Siemionow, Frank Papay, Daniel Alam, Steven Bernard, Risal Djohan, Chad Gordon, Mark Hendrickson, Robert Lohman, Bijan Eghtesad, Kathy Coffman, Eric Kodish, Carmen Paradis, Robin Avery, John Fung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Multiple reconstructive procedures are common for the reconstruction of complex facial deformities of skin, soft tissues, bony structures, and functional subunits, such as the nose, lips, and eyelids. However, the results have been unsatisfactory. An innovative approach entailing a single surgical procedure of face allograft transplantation is a viable alternative and gives improved results. Methods: On Dec 9, 2008, a 45-year-old woman with a history of severe midface trauma underwent near-total face transplantation in which 80% of her face was replaced with a tailored composite tissue allograft. We addressed issues of immunosuppressive therapy, psychological and ethical outcomes, and re-integration of the patient into society. Findings: After the operation, the patient did well physically and psychologically, and tolerated immunosuppression without any major complication. Routine biopsy on day 47 after transplantation showed rejection of graft mucosa; however, a single bolus of corticosteroids reversed rejection. During the first 3 weeks after transplantation, the patient accepted her new face; 6 months after surgery, the functional outcome has been excellent. In contrast to her status before transplantation, the patient can now breathe through her nose, smell, taste, speak intelligibly, eat solid foods, and drink from a cup. Interpretation: We show the feasibility of reconstruction of severely disfigured patients in a single surgical procedure using composite face allotransplantation. Therefore, this should be taken in consideration as an early option for severely disfigured patients. Funding: None.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-209
Number of pages7
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9685
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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