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The Frenchman 'with three faces' speaks out after second transplant

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The Frenchman 'with three faces' speaks out after second transplant
'The man with three faces' Jerome Hamon Photo: Le Parisien/Screengrab
09:54 CEST+02:00
Jerome Hamon remains in a Paris hospital after undergoing the unprecedented feat of a second face transplant but says he has quickly accepted his new "identity".
Jerome Hamon is getting used to his new soubriquet "the man with three faces".
 
His new face remains smooth and motionless, with his skull, skin and features yet to be fully aligned, a gradual process reliant on immunosuppressant drugs which, hopefully, will prevent his body rejecting the transplanted material.
   
"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.
 
"I can't wait to get rid of all this," he adds, speaking with difficulty of all the major treatment he has undergone to become the first man to have received two face transplants.
   
This unprecedented feat was painstakingly carried out by the staff at the Georges-Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, and Laurent Lantieri, a professor 
of plastic surgery, who led the team through the multi-step procedure.
   
It was a strange reunion for patient and doctor as it was Lantieri who  carried out the world's first full face transplant, including tear ducts and eyelids, on Hamon at a hospital outside Paris in July 2010.
 
Video: Le Parisien
 
Two months without a face
 
Hamon suffers from neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic mutation which causes severely disfiguring tumours and related complications. 
   
His first face transplant in 2010 was a success. But that same year -- in  order to treat nothing more than a common cold -- he was given an antibiotic 
incompatible with his immunosuppressive treatment. 
   
In 2016 he began to display signs of transplant rejection, and his new face  deteriorated.
   
Last summer Hamon was hospitalised and in November his face, suffering from  necrosis, had to be removed.
   
He remained in hospital without a face for two months, a very difficult  time, while a compatible donor was sought. 
   
This exceptional case revealed an exceptional patient.
   
Everyone at the hospital "was blown away by Jerome's courage, his will, his strength of character in a tragic situation. While he was waiting he never 
complained, he was even in a good mood," recalled Bernard Cholley, an anaesthetist.
   
Eventually, a face donor was found, a 22-year-old man who had died hundreds  of kilometres from Paris. Lantieri heard the news on a Sunday in January and 
the massive logistical and medical operation was swiftly launched.
   
The donor face was transported as quickly as possible by road on the Monday  to the Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris.
   
By late morning the following day, Hamon was being wheeled back to his  hospital bed following the ground-breaking surgery, with his medical team  noticing encouraging signs of good colour in his new face.
 
'It's good, it's me'
 
The operation answers a key question for Lantieri and the rest of the  medical world; "Can we redo a facial transplant? Yes, we can re-transplant and 
this is what you get!"
   
To avoid any rejection, the patient underwent three months of special blood  treatment prior to the transplant, nephrologist Eric Thervet explained.
   
Despite all the anxiety and suffering, Hamon is a happy man again.
   
"The first transplant I accepted immediately. I thought 'this is my new  face' and this time it's the same," he explained.
   
"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."
 
There have now been around 40 face transplants throughout the world since  the first was performed on Frenchwoman Isabelle Dinoire in northern France in  2005.
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