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Full-face transplant patient appears in public for the first time

A Spanish man who underwent the world's first full face transplant has gone before TV cameras for the first time since his surgery in March.

A man who underwent a full-face transplant and Spanish Dr. Joan Barret

Oscar wants to take up hunting and fishing again

Just before checking out of hospital on Monday, the patient thanked the medical team that gave him a new face at a Barcelona hospital, as well as the family of the donor.

A team of experts at Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona had carried out the transplant in late March. In a 24-hour-operation, the 31-year-old patient, identified only as Oscar, received new facial muscles, skin, nose, lips, a jaw, teeth, a palate and cheekbones, according to the head of the medical team that carried out the procedure, Joan Pere Barret.

Barret said the man would now need between a year and 18 months of physical therapy and would regain up to 90 percent of his facial functions.

A new life

"Bit by bit he is improving but he nonetheless has a long and difficult road ahead to have intelligible speech like he had before," Barret added. At the news conference, Oscar spoke with considerable difficulty.

He was unable to breathe, swallow, talk normally or eat on his own after accidentally shooting himself in the face five years ago. Now, Oscar is able to drink liquids and speak.

Hospitals in several countries have carried out face transplants in the past, but these involved only part of the patient's face.

Author: Dagmar Breitenbach (AP/AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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