Second face transplant – acute risk of rejection

Publié le 9 May, 2018

Jérôme Hamon is the first man to undergo a second face transplant[1]. His body rejected the first transplant after five years. The partially necrosed face had to be removed and the patient had to spend over two months in intensive care, without a face, waiting for a second transplant.


This total face transplant was carried out by Professor Lantieri at Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou. The face, which was removed from a 22-year-old RTA victim, was immersed in a solute containing the properties of marine-worm haemoglobin for two days, in order to retain oxygen. Jérôme Hamon was taken into theatre on 15 January and did not leave until late morning on 16 January. During surgery, his “blood had to be cleansed of antibodies” by plasmapheresis. The “production of these antibodies then had to be blocked” by medication administered to him for three months prior to surgery, explains Éric Thervet, a nephrologist.


Despite all of these precautions, the risk of rejection is still acute. The patient therefore has to take his immunosuppressant therapy strictly as directed. His body started to reject the first transplant in 2015 following antibiotic treatment for a common cold which was incompatible with the other treatments.


Still in hospital three months after surgery, he is “tired because of the heavy treatment he has to take” and can only talk “with difficulty”. In fact, his face which is “smooth and motionless”, has yet to “be aligned with his skull”. “If I hadn’t accepted this new face, it would have been terrible. Indeed, it’s a question of identity. “. He said that he “feels very well”, but added that he “can’t wait to get rid of all this”.


[1] Second full face transplant following rejection: patient follows “tedious” rehabilitation, Man is given a second face following initial transplant rejection and World first: total face transplant.

Le Monde (17/04/2018)

Photo : Pixabay/DR

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