In his life, Jérôme Hamon has had three faces: the first man in the world to have undergone two transplants of the face, it agreed to “immediately” his new appearance, his new “identity”.
Still in hospital three months after his operation to Paris, he appeared with a face still smooth and still, that has not espoused the traits of his skull. This should come gradually, provided there is good follow-up treatment immunosuppressant preventing a new release.
“I feel very well,” said the recipient, 43-year-old, three months after his operation in the night from 15 to 16 January, during a meeting with media last week.
“I can’t wait to be freed of it all,” he adds, tired by the heavy treatment he must undergo, and speaking with difficulty.
This novel is a credit to the team of Pr Laurent Lantieri, european hospital Georges-Pompidou, Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP).
This plastic surgeon had already performed on the same patient, a first graft for total facial, by 2010 at the hospital Henri-Mondor in Créteil, near Paris.
Jerome Hamon is suffering from neurofibromatosis type 1 (disease of von Recklinghausen neurofibromatosis), a genetic disorder that has distorted her face.
The first transplant had been a success, as he had told in a book published in April 2015, “You saw the Gentleman?”
Alas, the same year, on the occasion of a banal cold, it is cured by an antibiotic that is inconsistent with its treatment of immune tolerance. In 2016 it starts to show signs of chronic rejection, and the face is deteriorating.
In the summer of 2017 he is hospitalized, and in November, his face grafted, which presents areas of necrosis, must be removed.
There will still be two months “without a face” in the intensive care unit at the Pompidou center, the time that the Agency of biomedicine indicates a compatible donor. Difficult moments to live, with a facies of flayed alive.
But in exceptional cases, patient and exceptional. “The whole team in the resuscitation was blown away by the courage of Jerome, his will, his strength of character in a tragic situation. Because it is then in the waiting, and that he never complained. It was even rather good mood”, told the press Bernard Cholley, anesthesiologist-resuscitator.
The donor face will be a young man of 22 years, who died several hundred miles of Paris. The Pr Lantieri learns on a Sunday evening, the 14th of January, which triggers a big logistics.
It is necessary first to draw this face in the day Monday.
In the evening it should be transported as quickly as possible, by the road, down to the Georges-Pompidou.
With the agreement of the national security Agency of the drug (MSNA), a revolutionary technique was used for graft preservation: in addition to being immersed in a solute classic, it has benefited from the properties of the hemoglobin of the marine worm to retain the oxygen.
Jerome Hamon came to the operating theatre on Monday the 15th of January, at mid-day. “Around noon, the team carried out the preparation level receiver: prepare the vessels, to prepare the nerves, so that we can then do this transplant,” says professor Lantieri.
Then, it will be like to gently place a mask, connecting it to everything that makes the anatomy complex of the head. Very quickly, the staff finds that the graft shows signs of life are encouraging to dye.
The patient will come out of the block Tuesday in the late morning, at the end of a transaction outside the norm. It will be the subject of a leak in the press a few days later.
“The operation responds to a question which was of the order of the research: is it possible to transplant again in the face? Yes, you can retransplanter, and this is what you get”, explained the Pr Lantieri.
To avoid a rejection, the transaction is required to “clean the blood of antibodies”, by plasmapheresis, and “block the production of these antibodies” by drug treatment during the three months prior to the transplant, detailed Eric Thervet, a nephrologist.
“The first transplant, I immediately accepted the graft. I considered that it was a new face and now it is the same”, said today Jérôme Hamon. “If I hadn’t accepted this new face, it would have been a tragedy. Actually, it is a question of identity. (…) But then, it is good, it is me.”.
There were 40 transplants of the face in the world since the first, that of the French Isabelle Dinoire in 2005.