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Face transplants

  1. Jan 18, 2004 #1


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    When I was in high school, a good friend of mine, Jerry, was in a horrendous fire when the gas stove in his brother's apartment exploded. They had to cut his eyes and mouth open because the flesh had seared shut. He no longer had a nose or ears. The flesh on his fingers appeared to have melted off. He no longer looked human, even after years of skin grafts, most which did not take. He looked like something from a grade B horror movie. Those of us that knew him still saw him as the sweet, endearing, funny guy that would do anything for you. But it destroyed his life.

    I don't know if you have ever seen someone that was horribly disfigured in a fire.

    There is now the possibilty to do entire "face transplants".

    This procedure is something that can give some semblance of normalcy back to some people. Maybe not to burn victims like Jerry because the tissue damage was too deep in his case, but there are others whose disfigurements could be helped by this procedure.

    I missed the program on dateline tonight. I was wondering if anyone else saw it and what they think of the procedure?

    I can't beleive that some people object to this procedure if it could help someone.

    Currently if you are an organ donor (here in the US it is on your driver's license), there is not much that they don't harvest, aside from the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, they also take the eyes, skin, bones, veins, blood vessels, heart valves and tendons.

    Would the possibility of having your entire face used make you decide to not be an organ donor? Any other thoughts on this?


    edited to add donor question.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2004 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    First, I can see the natural repulsion to such an idea. We are getting close to completely recycling dead people....that bothers me a bit. At the same time, I have always believed in organ donation. Hmmm. Not quite consistent here am I?

    Soon, hopefully, artificially grown faces, ears, fingers, and most any other body part or organ will make this issue moot; along with rejection issues.

    In the mean time, I tend to view this idea like organ donations. Also, I doubt that donors will start ripping up their donor cards. When a person donates their organs it is usually because they hold no emotional attachment to their corpse. How is being defaced any worse than being gutted? [boy, the word “defaced” uniquely applies here eh?]. Finally, since the major features of a persons face come mainly from the bones, it seems unlikely that we will find many [if any] recipients that look just like the donor.

    As for the dangers of surgery; this is silly. If we accept cosmetic surgery for reasons of vanity, which I don't by the way, I think the risk is too great, then how can one object to this application?

    Can Michael Jackson's surgeons claim that they did no harm?

    Edit: If the patient is willing to take the risk - assuming that they are terribly disfigured - then how does the govenment lay claim to rights of choice?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2004
  4. Jan 18, 2004 #3


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    Re: Re: Face transplants

    The face is very personal. I am an organ donor and I think if it wasn't for my own personal experience with how devastating this is to someone's ability to function at the most basic level, I would be hesitant. Jerry and people like him are so disfigured that they cannot go out in public. I'm not kidding, he looked like a skeleton with wax dripped over it. Exactly like those scary monsters in horror pictures.

    I saw a program on Nova that showed how they were able to grow many types of human tissues. Fascinating.


    That is one of the most truly frightening things I have ever seen. Of course, Joan Crawford was a bit frightening.

    It should be left to the individual as to whether they think the risk is warranted. In a case as severe as those that would need this extreme procedure, if it was me, I would take that risk. No one has the right to tell someone that they can't have a procedure done that does no harm to anyone else, especially since the donor would have been willing.
  5. Jan 19, 2004 #4

    jimmy p

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    What i think is disgusting is the cosmetic surgery with the cadaver skin...i saw some programme where i woman wanted fuller lips so they placed cadaver skin in her lip. yuck. And plastic surgeons are doing it a lot more now for burns victims and stuff.

    I think using corpses for cosmetic surgery is just wrong. Defiling the dead just to make yourself look better...
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