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French man gets ‘third face’ in new transplant

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Health Desk: 18 April 2018: The first person in the world to receive two facial transplants says he is feeling well, three months after his latest groundbreaking operation.

Jérôme Hamon had his first transplanted face removed last year after signs of rejection following a treatment with an incompatible antibiotic during a cold.

The 43-year-old remained in a hospital in Paris without a face for two months while a compatible donor was sought.

Mr. Hamon suffers from neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic condition that caused severe disfiguring tumors on his face.

His first transplant, in 2010, was a success, but he caught a common cold in 2015 and was given antibiotics. The drug was incompatible with the immunosuppressive treatment he was having to prevent a rejection of the transplanted material.

The first signs of rejection came in 2016 and last November, the face, suffering from necrosis, had to be removed.

Mr. Hamon lived without a face in a room at Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris without being able to see, speak or hear until January, when a face donor was found and the second transplant carried out.

To avoid further rejection, Mr. Hamon - dubbed "the man with three faces" by French media - had special treatment to clean the blood prior to the transplant.

His new face remains smooth and motionless, and his skull, skin, and features are yet to be fully aligned. But he is positive about his recovery.

"I'm 43 and the donor was 22 so I'm 22 again," he told French TV.

The hours-long operation was led by Prof Laurent Lantieri, a specialist in hand and face transplants who carried out Mr. Hamon's initial surgery eight years ago.

"Today, we know that a double transplant is feasible, it's no longer in the field of research," he told Le Parisien newspaper (in French).

The first face transplant was carried out in 2005 in northern France. Since then, some 40 operations have been performed around the world.