The patient underwent face transplant surgery six years ago. In November, “the severity of the rejection” became chronic with necrotic plaque formation, and doctors were obliged to remove the transplant as his life was in jeopardy. Since then the man has been “cared for in the Intensive Care Unit” and “added to the waiting list” pending “a new transplant from a deceased donor”. He was therefore “without a face for one and a half months”.
On 15 January, following surgery performed at Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou by a team led by Professor Lantieri, a specialist in such procedures, a second face was transplanted. The procedure continued until the early morning of the next day.
As far as the Biomedicines Agency is concerned, “This transplant shows for the first time that retransplantation is feasible in the case of composite vascularised transplants following chronic rejection”. The Agency nevertheless has some reservations: “This transplant was subject to severe immunological constraints and it will be several weeks before transplant viability can be confirmed”.
Professor Olivier Bastien from the Biomedicines Agency emphasises that “the possibility of rejection, which can occur with any transplant” is essentially more prevalent following face and hand transplants. As with all transplants, patients have to take treatment for the rest of their lives to reduce the body’s defence mechanisms and prevent chronic rejection, which can still happen, and prevent “transplant organ failure”.
Furthermore, to prevent risks, Professor Lanteri explained that the patient’s blood had to be cleansed daily to remove existing antibodies that had developed following the first transplant. The ICU phase is critical. Doctors now have to wait one month to find out whether the procedure has been a success.
Since 2005, less than 40 face transplants have been carried out worldwide.
Le Figaro, Afp (19/01/2018) ; Communiqué de presse de l’Agende de la Biomédecine (19/01/2018)
Allo docteur (22/01/2018)