A man who suffered a serious accident while hunting was living with what was left of a badly disfigured face. A bullet had blown away much of his face in 2011.
Several rebuilding surgeries over the years had helped but left him breathing through a hole in his windpipe, a mouth that couldn’t close, and years of constant pain.
Then Maurice D. of Gatineau consulted wth Dr Daniel Borsuk in Montreal, who at age 40 was a young but already renowned plastic surgeon.
A bold plan was discussed, something done barely a few times ever in the world, that of a face transplant.
Operation in May, success revealed now
Dr Borsuk explained the severe risks, that Desjardins could die on the operating table, that he cold die from the body’s rejection of the face, or from cancer as a result of anti-rejection drugs he would have to take for the rest of his life.
Desjardins response was to go ahead, saying “what kind of life do I have now?”
Four years in the planning, a donor was found, That too is a challenge, as the donor must be brain dead, but the heart still working in order keep facial tissue, and muscle alive. Once removed, the tissues have only a couple of hours before they must begin receiving blood again, or be lost.
Leading a medical team of 9 surgeons, 15 specialists, and dozens of other medical staff in an operation that lasted 30 hours, the complete face of the donor, and what remained of the patient’s face, were removed and the new “face” was placed on the patient, where blood vessels, skin, nerves, bones, cartilage and teeth were attached to the patient.
Although the transplant took place in March, it is only now being made public as the extremely complex, rare, and risky operation has been deemed a success.
Another issue is a psychological one as Desjardins has to get used to seeing a new face in the mirror that he cannot recognize as being him.