A team of over 100 health professionals performed a successful face transplant on a 64-year old man who was involved in a hunting accident several years ago.
The man is the oldest face transplant recipient in the world, and his surgery was also the first of its kind in Canada.
It was seven years ago when the patient was involved in a hunting incident involving an accidental gunshot that left his face severely disfigured. Even after five reconstructive surgeries, he remained living in constant, excruciating pain, was forced to wear a tracheostomy, and constantly had sleeping, breathing, eating, and speaking problems. Social interactions also proved to be more challenging, so the man described as a natural extrovert began choosing to stay indoors and isolated instead.
His doctors believed that a face transplant was the only option to successfully restore his teeth, two jaws, nose, facial muscles, nose, and lips, and his hope for another shot at a normal life as well.
World’s Oldest Face Transplant Recipient
Just four months ago, a team of over 100 medical professionals collaborated to perform the 30-hour operation at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont in Canada. The surgery was led by the University of Montreal’s Dr. Daniel Borsuk, and was made possibly thanks to the organ donation organized by Transplant Quebec. It was the first successful face transplant in Canada, while the patient is the world’s oldest face transplant recipient.
Now, the man is said to be recovering quite well. He has already fully recovered and is now able to breathe properly, smell with his new nose, chew with his new jaws, and speak with his new lips.
“As a plastic surgeon, I know that, no matter large or small, injuries to the face have a particularly symbolic aspect and are closely linked to our identity. Facial disfigurement can have a detrimental effect on self-confidence and productivity, and therefore, this transplant offered immense hope and possibility to our patient,” said Dr. Borsuk.
According to the University of Montreal, the successful transplant was not just the first in Canada but in the Commonwealth as well, and this was thanks to the efforts of Dr. Borsuk and the entire team at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont. Worldwide, the procedure is still considered complex and rare with only 40 done in various parts of the world since 2005. But despite its complexity, it is actually a less expensive option for patients as compared to having multiple reconstructive surgeries that would be needed in the attempt to fix complex injuries.
Reconstructive face transplants may involve the transplantation of the skin, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and even bone, so as to help restore basic functions that were lost, and may also restore the patients’ ability to express non-verbal communication such as smiling or frowning.