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Isabelle Dinoire (b. 1967)

In 2005 a historic event took place. Isabelle Dinoire, a Frenchwoman, became the first person in the world to receive a partial face transplant of tissue, veins, arteries and muscles from an organ donor. Isabelle Dinoire’s dog had chewed off her nose, lips and chin when she fell unconscious after taking too much medication.

While an internal organ transplant causes little controversy, a face transplant was felt to be problematic, not least because the face was on display, unlike a heart or a kidney, and there was a fear that it might be possible to recognise the original person.

Isabelle Dinoire said that her reconstruction had given her ‘courage’. However, this surgery will no doubt remain controversial for many years to come, as many people feel their identity is closely linked to their appearance.

Bibliography

H Samuel, `Merci: First word from face transplant woman as she looked in mirror', Daily Telegraph (December 3, 2005)

A Johnson, `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', The Independent on Sunday (December 11, 2005)

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