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Chinese face transplant patient healing well

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Chinese man who was attacked by a bear and had a partial face transplant is healing well, but could still reject tissue from a brain-dead patient used to give him a new nose, lip and cheek, state media reported Tuesday.

Li Guoxing, 30, had much of the right side of his face reconstructed by doctors at the Xijing Hospital in central China’s Xi’an city during a 15-hour procedure on April 14.

The hospital said it was only the second time in the world that the complex procedure had been attempted.

The official Xinhua News Agency said on its Web site that the donor was a man who had been declared brain dead by the hospital. It gave no other details.

Doctors are waiting to see whether Li’s body accepts or rejects the new tissue in the next month or two, Xinhua said.

“Judging by Li’s recovery so far, there should be few problems,” the agency said.

Showing his happiness

Xinhua said in a separate report that the hospital released a video of Li taken Tuesday that showed him eating eggs and steamed bread and listening as people chatted. The report said that the stitches on his face had been removed and that some of the swelling on his face had gone down.

“Li’s smile remains lopsided as the nerves on the right side of his face aren’t functioning properly, but the left side of his face appeared to show his happiness,” Xinhua said.

The telephone at the Xijing hospital public affairs department rang unanswered late Tuesday.

A black bear mauled Li in the southern province of Yunnan two years ago.

Li, a member of the Lisu ethnic group from Yunnan’s Lanping county, was attacked after he tried using a stick to drive away the bear because it was eating one of his sheep, Xinhua said.

Last year, doctors in Amiens, France, performed what was apparently the world’s first such procedure, transplanting lips, a chin and a nose on to a woman who had been attacked by a dog.