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Face transplants are here

A team of doctors in is working on a face transplant. "After years of heated scientific debate over ethics and technical feasibility, the Cleveland Clinic last fall became the first institution to approve this novel surgery. Already Dr. Siemionow’s group is searching for its first patient." This will not be plastic surgery:

The medical challenges to face transplantation are formidable. As Dr. Siemionow envisions it, the series of operations will require rotating teams of specialists who may be deployed in more than one operating theater. The face to be transplanted will be removed, or "degloved," from a cadaver; it will most likely include the epidermis, along with the underlying fat, nerves and blood vessels, but no musculature.

Surgeons also will remove the patient’s own damaged facial tissue, then reattach the clamped blood vessels and nerves to the transplanted face. The procedures will take 15 hours, perhaps longer.

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