The man with 3 faces, after an astonishing medical feat. What ethical difficulties can face-transplants pose?
“The man with three faces. These transplants pose, indeed, the question of identity”.
Health professionals at Hospital Georges Pompidou in Paris have performed a double face transplant (see HERE). After the first transplant failed in Jérôme Hamon of France, a 43-year-old man with neurofibromatosis (von Recklinghausen’s disease), a genetic disease that left him severely disfigured. The first transplant was performed in 2010, but in 2016 the patient began to show symptoms of rejection and his face began to deteriorate.
In past November, doctors decided to remove the transplanted face, as it showed areas of necrosis. This left Hamon with no face for two months, until in mid-January 2018, the opportunity for a new transplant presented, according to Le Parisien and it was made.
“I feel very well in myself,” the 43-year-old transplant recipient told reporters last week as he continues his recovery from the surgery (see our article about the first face transplant). By July, the expressions reborn on his face (the only features of Mr. Hamon that were preserved were his blue eyes). He can laugh and smile. Does he manage today to recognize himself in the mirror? To accept his new self image? “This transplant poses, indeed, the question of identity. But I consider that my true face is the one I accept, says Jerome, as each syllable lifts his chest. That’s what I say to myself by looking at myself in the mirror. There, it’s me, it’s Jerome, “he says, pointing at his eyes. A lesson in life in a world obsessed with the image. His donor was only 22 years old. He jokes: “What’s fun is that I’m told that I rejuvenated! “.
Although the post-operative period has been complex, doctors believe that he will be able to gesticulate in a couple of months. Face transplants, regardless of the medical aspects, present ethical problems especially in term of patients’ identity, an issue that we have already referred to previously in our Observatory (see HERE ).