Cleveland Clinic successfully performs its first total face transplant

Cleveland Clinic was the first of six U.S. institutions to perform a face transplant

3rd face transplant, Cleveland Clinic, Main Campus, Dr. Frances Papay, Chief Surgeon Cleveland Ohio, Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute, DPSI
Frank Papay, M.D., (center) directs Cleveland Clinic’s third face transplant. (DPSI Medical Photography)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Multiple specialists and 11 surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic have successfully performed the hospital’s first ever total face transplant.

The 31-hour surgery back in May resulted in the 100 percent transfer of a human face — the hospital’s third face transplant — that included the scalp, forehead, eye lids and sockets, nose, cheeks, jaw, teeth, nerves, muscles and skin.

The 21-year-old female patient is the youngest person in the U.S. to receive a face transplant. She suffered severe facial trauma from a previous gunshot wound.

Cleveland Clinic was the first of six U.S. institutions to perform a face transplant. Fewer than three dozen face transplants have been performed worldwide.

Transplant co-director Frank Papay, M.D., chairman of the Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute, said he is “extremely proud of this team for their commitment to making a difference in this patient’s life.”

The surgical team utilized 3-D printing and virtual reality to prepare for the operation.

The recipient said she is “forever grateful for the care this hospital has given me … To my donor and her family, words cannot express the appreciation I have for this incredible gift.” Donations were issued through Lifebanc.

Since the surgery, the patient is recovering well and continuing to be monitored for signs of tissue rejection.

Click here to read the Cleveland Clinic’s press release about the operation.

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