Frenchwoman who got world’s 1st face transplant dies at 49

From The Associated Press:

PARIS (AP) — Isabelle Dinoire, a Frenchwoman who received the world’s first partial face transplant, has died more than a decade after a complex and daring operation that set the stage for dozens of similar transplants worldwide. She was 49.

Her life with a new face was a miracle to many, but was also marred by infections, kidney trouble and hypertension linked to her treatment. In announcing her death Tuesday, the Amiens University Hospital in northern France said Dinoire’s experience “illustrates perfectly the high stakes of face transplants.”

The hospital said Dinoire died in April, but didn’t announce it until Tuesday because the family wanted to mourn privately.

After being severely disfigured by her pet Labrador, Dinoire was given a new nose, chin and lips in a ground-breaking, 15-hour operation in 2005 led by doctors Bernard Devauchelle and Jean-Michel Dubernard in the Amiens hospital. When she first appeared in public with her new face four months later, her speech was slurred and a scar clearly visible – but the fact that she could speak to reporters of having a “face like everyone else” and almost smile was seen as a medical breakthrough.

However, despite what the hospital described as a “remarkable” transplant, she had health issues for years linked to the medication she took to keep her body from rejecting the new face, and underwent new surgery in January.

Soon afterward, doctors discovered a malign tumor, according to Tuesday’s statement. Independent doctors who followed her case said she had lung cancer that might have been linked to her treatment, or to her lifetime of smoking.

The operation changed Dinoire’s life and drew international attention. There have been 36 face transplant surgeries around the …

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