So apparently British surgeons have received permission from their ethics committees to carry out four face transplants in the near future. This is of course following on the heels of the French transplant done on patient Isabelle Dinoire, whose lower face was mostly missing after being attacked by a dog as she lay unconscious from a sleeping pill overdose. Needless to say, much of the debate on the transplant was whether or not she was an ideal candidate – in addition to her psychological state, there was the fact that she kept smoking after transplantation, which seriously compromises your immune system’s ability to heal, raising issues of tissue rejection.
Anyhow, it sounds like the British surgeons are looking at full face transplants, largely for people who’ve been seriously burned. Frankly, I think this is a long time coming. For the most part, facial structure varies from person to person, so the features aren’t going to be akin to the transplantee’s face – there will be no Face\Off issues going on. The new face will be at best a blend of the old and the new, but more importantly, it will be a healed face – not one covered in scar tissue and exposed muscle. It will allow someone to go out and live a life that doesn’t require masks, or being under constant, not terribly subtle scrutiny.
The thing I think we have to ask ourselves is why this hasn’t happened sooner.