Surgeons at Montreal’s Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital revealed on Wednesday that they had successfully conducted a face transplant, providing a severely scarred man from Quebec with a new chance at life and marking a first in the history of medicine in Canada.

Officials at the hospital highlighted the lengthy and difficult surgery that took place in May of last year involving Maurice Desjardins, who at the age of 64 was characterized as the world’s oldest recipient of such a transplant.

The procedure, which has been carried out around 40 times throughout the globe since 2005, was attempted for the first time in Canada by a group of individuals under the direction of Dr. Daniel Borsuk, a cosmetic surgeon.

Desjardins had been living in constant pain and isolation despite undergoing five reconstructive surgeries ever since a hunting accident in 2011 left him without his jaw, nose, and teeth. According to Borsuk, there was no other option for Desjardins. He said that Desjardins had been living in constant pain and isolation.

“Imagine when you’re suffering in quiet at home for years and you don’t leave your house as often as you’d want to,” said Borsuk, who also teaches at Université de Montréal. “You’re sleeping in a different room because of the sound of the tracheostomy (opening in the trachea),” he said.

Desjardins went to meet Borsuk in Montreal with a few requirements, including that he be able to properly breathe and talk, and that he has a nose, lips, jaws, and teeth.

Borsuk said that Desjardins wanted to be able to take his granddaughter on a stroll outdoors without having to worry about others gazing at his deformities.

Before undergoing the operation, the patient had been under close observation for a number of years.

Borsuk said that in terms of testing, they put the individual through the wringer. “We needed to make sure that this individual was in healthy condition… his requirements were there, there was no other way out for him, and there was no other opportunity for him to have a normal life.

Borsuk said that one of the specialists who assisted with Desjardins’ case was a psychologist who examined his mental toughness over the course of a number of years.

“Even with all that was done, he’s already begun (accepting) the new face,” Borsuk said. “He’s so mentally strong that even with everything that was done, he’s already begun (accepting) the new look.”

Borsuk referred to the procedure as a “combination of science, technology, engineering, and art,” stating that it required years of planning and training in the cadaver lab deep within the hospital in order to minimize risks and maximize results. Borsuk said that the procedure was “a combination of science, technology, engineering, and art.”

The procedure that took place in Quebec needed the skills of nine surgeons, several experts, and the cooperation of more than one hundred professionals, including physicians, nurses, and a wide variety of other people.

After living with his deformity for seven and a half years, undergoing thirty hours of surgery and spending one week in critical care, a stunned Desjardins had a peek at his new face for the first time and offered a thumbs-up and a hug to Borsuk when he saw it for the first time.

“You can build a face, but it has to be beautiful,” said Borsuk, who thinks the team produced “one of the greatest face transplants to date” in the process of reattaching the patient’s face to his body.

The agency responsible for organ procurement in Quebec, known as Transplant Quebec, made a point of praising the selflessness of the donor’s family, who consented to the process and asked not to be recognized.

Borsuk noted that it couldn’t be just any donor; the donor had to have the same skin tone, height, bone structure, and even hair color as Desjardins. This was necessary so that the transplanted face would have sideburns and a beard that matched Desjardins’ own hair color.

Louis Beaulieu of Transplant Quebec said that the donor was identified and special permission was acquired for the face transplant process. Given that the donor’s family was struggling with a recent loss, this was done in an ethical and considerate manner, according to Louis Beaulieu.

According to what Beaulieu indicated, “the procedure from the identification to the purchase is roughly 40 to 48 hours,” and that is the time frame with which they are working.

Borsuk claimed that the patient is recuperating well and is able to breathe without a tracheostomy, chew with his new jaws, and also smell and talk correctly. Neither Desjardins nor his wife was there Wednesday, but Borsuk indicated that the patient is doing well.

It will take him at least a year to recover and go through therapy since he will have to relearn fundamental activities like eating, drinking, and even smiling. He will spend the rest of his life having to take medication to suppress his immune system.

Borsuk said that he did not regard the transplantation of another human’s face as any different from any other kind of transplant, and he added that the face has taken on an increased relevance as a result of the proliferation of social media.

He wanted to tell the press that there was still the same Maurice Desjardins below the transplanted visage.

“Back in the day of our grandparents, when your name really meant anything,” Borsuk said. “But those days are long gone.”

By Anna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *