IMAGE: Face transplant patient
Li Guoxing, a Chinese farmer who received a partial face transplant after he was badly disfigured in a bear attack, is recovering from the operation well, his physician says.
updated 7/29/2006 8:08:56 AM ET 2006-07-29T12:08:56

A Chinese farmer who received a partial face transplant after he was badly disfigured in a bear attack was recovering well and has been discharged from the hospital, state media said Saturday.

Li Guoxing, 30, who underwent surgery at Xijing Hospital in the central city of Xi'an, thanked the doctors and nurses after being discharged Friday and said he was "very happy to go home," according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The hospital said it was only the second time that the complex procedure had been attempted anywhere in the world. Last year, doctors in France performed the world's first such procedure, transplanting a chin, nose and lips onto a woman who had been attacked by a dog.

Li's face was mauled in 2003 when he tried to use a stick to chase away a black bear attacking his cows. In April, a team of 15 doctors and three nurses gave Li a nose, upper lip, cheek and eyebrow from a brain-dead donor in a 15-hour procedure.

Since then, Li has been doing well and the swelling in his face has almost disappeared, Guo Shuzhong, director of the hospital's plastic surgery department, was cited as saying by Xinhua.

Li now has a mustache and some acne — signs that the transplant has been successful, Guo said.

Two doctors were accompanying Li back to his home in a poor, mountainous village in Yunnan province in the country's southwest, Xinhua said.

He will spend a week with his wife and two children before going back to the hospital for more treatment, it said. He will likely undergo additional surgery in the coming weeks "to make the right part of his face, his lips and eyes seem more natural," Guo said.

The Nature Conservancy, a U.S. environmental group, contacted Guo about Li's case after hearing that his hospital had successfully performed a partial face transplant on a rabbit. Guo then went to Li's home in March and determined he would attempt the surgery if a donor could be found.

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