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French woman receives world's first partial face transplant

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Paris (dpa) - A 38-year-old French woman who was badly disfigured by dogs has received the world's first partial face transplant, one of the surgeons, Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard, said Wednesday, confirming a story reported by the weekly Le Point in its latest issue.

The operation, which was described as "physically and psychologically very risky", involved transplanting the triangle formed by the nose and the mouth and used "skin, subcutaneous tissue, small facial muscles and arterial and vein elements" taken from a donor who had been declared brain dead, the magazine reported.

The complex surgery was performed between Sunday and Monday night at the University Hospital Centre of the northern French city of Amiens by two teams led by Dubernard, one of the world's leading experts in the transplantation of hands, and Professor Bernard Devauchelle of Amiens.

The patient, who was not identified, had her lips and part of her nose torn off by dogs in May. Health authorities gave the green light for the transplant in August.

According to Le Point, there were still "short-term and long-term risks that her body could reject" the foreign tissue, although the most critical period, the 48 hours following surgery, has already passed without apparent incident.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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