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Continued: Poland's 1st face transplant patient goes home; had operation only 3 weeks after accident

  • Article by: MONIKA SCISLOWSKA , Associated Press
  • Last update: July 30, 2013 - 3:00 PM

The damage was too extensive for doctors to temporarily seal the wound, and an urgent transplant was considered the only way to save the man's life.

Face transplants are extraordinarily complicated and relatively rare procedures that usually require extensive preparation of the recipient over a period of months or years, but the Polish patient's condition was deteriorating so rapidly that the doctors had to act fast. They have experience in face reconstruction from operating on cancer patients and practicing on cadavers.

The donor, a 34-year-old man, was chosen from a national registry of potential donors after his age, gender, blood group and body features were determined to be a good match for the injured man.

The donor's mother, Teresa Banach, has said it was a "difficult decision, but I consented because I wanted to save someone's life. My son did not need these organs anymore." She also donated organs to other patients.

Grzegorz said he was sorry that Teresa Banach lost her son — whose name was not released — and feels a bit "strange to have received his face." But he added that he is also full of "gratitude and respect" for her decision.

He said that the support of his own family has given him strength to carry on.

More than two dozen transplants of the face or parts of the face have been performed around the world. The first one was a partial face transplant on a woman maimed by her dog in France in 2005.

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