One year after his operation, Maurice Desjardins, the first Canadian to receive a face transplant, has recounted his experience. His entire face – nose, jaw, teeth, facial muscles and skin – was transplanted under the supervision of plastic surgeon Dr Daniel Borsuk at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal. It was a “high-risk” operation.
Although the worst has been avoided – “there has been no rejection” – Maurice is still on anti-rejection treatment that has “made him vulnerable to the slightest infection“. In the space of a year, he has had to fight off three major infections and spent a total of ten weeks in hospital. After being forced to break off his exercises to regain full use of his face for a few months, his jaw no longer closes and he cannot express himself clearly. “Maurice is going to do his exercises and this will improve,” said Dr Borsuk. Fed through a tube or with crushed food, Maurice has lost nearly 30 kilos. His wife, who cares for him on a permanent basis, says she has to “remain very attentive. It really is a 24-hour-a-day job! That’s why I didn’t have a choice. I had to quit my job,” she explained.
Despite these many obstacles, Mauritius said he has “no regrets“. When asked if it was worth it, he answered: “Yes. Actually, it’s more than worth it. It’s been priceless. Yes, really priceless”.