Surgeons say face transplants are still too risky
Thursday 20 November 2003
Doctors called yesterday for a ban on face transplants for people disfigured by burns or disease until the medical and psychological problems associated with them are better understood.
Face transplants are technically achievable and present one of the most exciting possibilities for plastic surgeons, but the resultant "hype" must be curbed in the interests of patients, the Royal College of Surgeons said.
At least five groups around the world are understood to be researching face transplants. In Britain, 10 people have approached Peter Butler, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital in London, who published preliminary research last year on the subject.
Plastic surgeons say transplanting a whole face would be technically simpler, and give better cosmetic results than the current method of using tissues from other parts of a person's body, which can involve up to 100 separate operations.
But the report by a working party of the royal college says patients would have to take lifelong anti-rejection drugs, live with the constant fear that the transplant could fail and have to cope with a radically changed appearance. The risks make it "unwise to proceed" with the operation, it says, although it should be recognised as a possible future treatment.
Sir Peter Morris, president of the royal college, who chaired the working party, said: "We do not feel it is appropriate at the moment for this experimental procedure to go ahead." He estimated that one in 10 transplants might fail in the first few weeks and up to half could face chronic rejection after two to three years.
John Barker, a plastic surgeon at the University of Louisville, said his team was ready to perform the first face transplant. But he said he supported the royal college report: "We have to be cautious, we have to move slowly."
Life & Style blogs
WWE 2K15 gameplay trailer: First look at Sting, Triple H and Daniel Bryan in next-gen graphics
iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
iPhone 'Wave': iOS 8 hoax claims you can charge your iPhone in the microwave - you can't
First day of Autumn: Google Doodle celebrates 2014 Autumn equinox
What are your fingerprint words?
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 What are your fingerprint words?
- 5 Gary Lineker involved in Twitter row after presenter rubbishes claims he will be warned by BBC over foul-mouthed tweets
£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...