The world’s first person to receive a partial face transplant, a French woman by the name of Isabelle Dinoire, passed away in April at the age of 49, A French hospital disclosed Tuesday.
Although Dinoire’s death was last spring, the news of her passing was confirmed on Tuesday after it was kept secret in order to protect her family’s privacy at the time of her death, NDTV reported. Dinoire died after battling “a long illness,” the French hospital reported.
In 2005, Dinoire, at the age of 38, received a face graft which included the nose, lips and chin of another patient – a brain-dead donor. The medication Dinoire took to prevent her body from rejecting the graft left her vulnerable to cancer, NDTV reported. Two cancers had developed and Dinoire reportedly succumbed to the disease.
Medical experts attempted to restore Dinoire’s facial features after her dog mauled her face in 2005. The operation took around 15 hours, the Daily Mail reported.
Dinoire had suffered from graft rejection, and last year “she had lost part of the use of her lips,” Le Figaro newspaper had reported.
Bernard Duvauchelle, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and Jean-Michel Dubernard, a surgeon at Edouard Herriot hospital in the city of Lyon, led the legendary operation, Medical Xpress reported.
At the time of Dinoire’s operation, a full face graft was often frowned upon as it was not deemed as a “life-saving” operation. However, Dubernard was resolute in carrying out the operation at the time, the Daily Mail reported.
“Once I had seen Isabelle’s disfigured face, no more needed to be said,” Dubernard told the British news outlet. “I was convinced something had to be done.”
Since 2005, around 15 similar procedures have been conducted. The world’s first “full” face transplant was done on a man in Spain in 2010.