'Man with three faces' on road to recovery

“I feel very well in myself,” the 43-year-old transplant recipient told reporters last week as he continues his recovery from the surgery which was carried out on January 15 and 16

The man is now said to be doing well and even spent a recent weekend in Brittany. The lead surgeon was Prof Laurent Lantieri, a face transplant specialist who carried out Hamon's first surgery in 2010. Hamon has a genetic condition that disfigured his face with tumors.

Jérôme Hamon is the first person to have received two face transplants.

Doctors removed Hamon's first transplanted face previous year after it began to show signs that it was being rejected by his body, reports said, after a period of antibiotic treatment he was given to fight a cold. The tissue in his new face died and had to be removed. Hamon was left without a face, a condition that Professor Lantieri described as "the walking dead". The man had no eyelids, no skin, no ears, he could not eat or speak, had limited hearing and could only communicate by turning his head and a little bit of writing.

"If you have no skin, you have infections", Lantieri told The Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday.

The seriousness of Hamon's rejection required a complete excision of his face in November.

In January, a second donor became available and Lantieri and his team performed the second operation.

To avoid facial rejection from happening again, Mr Hamon had undergone three months of blood treatment before the transplant took place, Eric Thervet, nephrologist said.

He added that Mr Hamon was being monitored like any other face transplant patient. Lantieri said, "For a man who went through all this, which is like going through a nuclear war, he's doing fine".

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His first donor was a 60-year-old and his second donor is 21-year-old so he joked on a French television that he would look 20-years younger.

Frenchman Jerome Hamon received his third face earlier this year.

"I'm 43. The donor was 22". It's a question of identity. "But here we are, it's good, it's me", he told AFP news agency from the hospital, where he is still recovering.

Dr. Maria Siemionow, a professor of orthopedic surgery in the University of IL at Chicago College of Medicine, said Hamon's second transplant marks a significant moment in the medical field. He said the techniques being developed by Lantieri and others could help doctors achieve what he called "the holy grail" of transplant medicine: how to allow patients to tolerate tissue transplants from others.

Plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahac of Harvard University told the AP that doctors still do not know exactly how long face transplants last but have forecast about 10 to 15 years, which is similar to kidneys.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac of Harvard University, who has done face transplants in the US, said similar procedures would ultimately become more common, with rising numbers of patients. "I thought, "This is my new face" and this time it's the same", he said.

By late morning the following day, the groundbreaking surgery was over and the medical team were heartened to observe good colour in Hamon's new face.

With his second transplanted face, Mr Hamon said he managed to drop a few decades.

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