Isabelle and Gill: Heroines of Today: Woman with a New Face Tells the Story of a Miracle ; Her Daughter Couldn't Look at Her and She Had to Wear a Mask to Go out. but Pioneering Surgery May Have Changed All That
reports, Andrew Johnson, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Isabelle Dinoire, the world's first face-transplant patient, spoke for the first time yesterday of her joy and hope for the future after a pioneering new procedure that has opened a Pandora's Box of ethical and moral concerns. Amid increasing controversy in France, where the operation took place, Ms Dinoire said she had no regrets and would 'do it again'.
Miss Dinoire, 38, whose lips, chin and nose were destroyed by her pet Labrador, said from her hospital bed in Lyon: 'It's simply amazing to see a nose and mouth on my face again. When I looked at my new face I knew straight away that it was me. I didn't have a boyfriend when I had the accident. Now, with my new face, I am more relaxed about the future. I won't need to worry. I am pleased with the way I look and how the operation has gone.'
Ms Dinoire could be the heroine of a fairy-tale. Others would place her in a Victorian Gothic-horror novel. Her facial disfigurement was so terrible she couldn't bear to look at herself, or for others to see her " she removed the mirrors from her house and wore a mask in the street.
Two weeks ago, she woke up with her features restored, thanks to the pioneering surgery of a brilliant doctor, Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard, who gave her the face of a dead person. When Ms Dinoire's new lips changed their pallor from a lifeless wan to pink as her blood flowed into the alien vessels " bringing life to a dead face " there was applause in the operating theatre.
Last week, the French magazine Paris Match published pictures of the historic moment when Ms Dinoire, a divorced mother of two, received her new face " the first operation of its kind and one that could herald a brave new medical world, offering hope to thousands of disfigured people.
But there is growing unease in France over the ethics of the procedure. Critics point out that Ms Dinoire's new face is someone else's old face " and that it had to be removed while blood was kept flowing through the dead donor's body. The donor, anonymous under French law, is thought to be a suicide victim whose heart was kept pumping with a ventilator. There is concern for Ms Dinoire's psychological well-being in the future.
However, there is no doubt that Ms Dinoire, recuperating in the Edouard Herriot Hospital in Lyons, is currently happy. Her eldest daughter, Lucie, 17, told how her mother was teased and stared at when she walked in the streets of her hometown " Valenciennes in northern France " after the accident.
Accounts of how or why her pet Labrador mauled her in May differ " further fuelling the controversy. At first, her doctor said she had tripped over the dog, triggering its attack in which Ms Dinoire's chin, lips and part of her nose were destroyed. Another story is that she took a sleeping tablet after a row with Lucie, and the dog caused the damage to her face by pawing her while she was asleep.
Lucie said her mother took an overdose in a suicide attempt, and that the dog, which has been destroyed, mauled her in an attempt to wake her. …