Dr. Laurent Lantieri of the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris conducted a face transplant onto Jerome Hamon in 2010, CBS News reports. Hamon, then in his mid-thirties, suffers from a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 1 that caused tumors on his face, severely disfiguring it.
The first transplant was a success at first. But Hamon got sick in 2015, and medication interfered with the anti-rejection drugs he was taking for the face transplant. In November last year, the tissue in his face began to die, so Lantieri had to remove the transplant.
Hamon was left without eyelids, ears or skin, and was unable to speak or eat in a condition Lantieri said was “the walking dead.” Hamon also had limited hearing and writing, and could only turn his head very slightly.
If you have no skin, you have infections. We were very concerned about the possibility of a new rejection.
A second face donor for Hamon became available in January, so Lantieri and a team were able to proceed with a second face transplant. Before doing so, doctors had to replace all of the blood in Hamon’s body in a procedure that took a month, in order to eliminate all potentially worrisome antibodies from Hamon’s treatments.
Hamon, who is now dubbed the “man with three faces,” is 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.”
The initial face transplant was from a 60-year-old, while this second one was from a 22-year-old. Hamon joked, “I’m 43. The donor was 22. So I’ve become 20 years younger.” He added, “If I hadn’t accepted this new face it would have been terrible. It’s a question of identity…But here we are, it’s good, it’s me.”