World’s first face transplant recipient dead at 49

- A French woman, who was the world’s first recipient of a face transplant, died in April “after a long illness,” hospital officials said Tuesday.

Isabelle Dinoire, 49, lost her nose and mouth after a dog bite. She made medical history on Nov. 27, 2005, when she was given a partial face transplant using tissue from a brain-dead woman during a 15-hour operation at Amiens Picardie hospital.

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Hospital officials in Amiens confirmed Dinoire’s death, explaining that the delay in announcing her passing was “in accordance with the will of her relatives,” who wished to protect their privacy.

Although doctors did not elaborate on the cause of death, the French media reported that Dinoire had suffered complications following her latest surgery. Le Figaro reported that Dinoire’s body had rejected the transplant last year “and she had lost part of the use of her lips.” 

At the age of 38, Dinoire received a triangular-shaped graft, comprising the nose, lips and chin, to replace parts of her face that had been mauled by Tanya, her pet cross-Labrador.

For months before the transplant, she had “the face of a monster,” she said. She had no mouth and her teeth and gums were exposed.

After her surgery, Dinoire said she was determined to make a success of her life, learning to eat and speak and also wanting to be able to kiss.

Since Dinoire’s surgery, more than 30 people worldwide have had similar treatment.

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