Emergency Face Transplant Saves Polish Man's Life

A 33-year old man, identified only by his first name - Grzegorz - underwent the first-ever face transplant surgery in the world, in a matter of weeks. The patient, whose face was torn off by a stone-cutting machine in a workplace accident, is now safe, the doctors say.

Usually, a face transplant procedure is carried out in months, or even years after the accident, but the doctors from the Oncology Center in Gliwice carried out this 27-hour operation on the 15th of May, only weeks after the accident. Face transplants are usually the last resort among surgeons, and are done only after conventional reconstructive surgeries and plastic surgeries have failed.

Grzegorz, who worked at a stone mason's workshop, suffered an accident on April 23, that resulted in a torn face and a crushed jaw. After an intensive treatment at a hospital in Wroclaw, he managed to survive and get back his eyesight. However, an attempt to re-attach his own face failed, leaving an area nearby his brain exposed to infections.

With the damage being too extensive to temporarily seal down the exposed areas, the patient was shifted to the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, the only place in Poland that was licensed to perform face transplants. This center had a good experience in facial reconstruction in cancer patients, and the experts had performed face transplants on cadavers.

With a rapidly deteriorating condition, the transplant became necessary, which is why, on May 15, the surgeons decided to perform the surgery.

The surgery involved reconstruction of the nose, the jaws, the palate and the area around the eyes.

The head of the team of surgeons, Dr. Adam Maciejewski, along with other specialists, carried out this surprisingly early surgery as a life-saving procedure.

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