Can you imagine being savagely attacked by a dog?
What if the attack was so severe that your nose, lips and chin were
completely destroyed? How would you feel about yourself? Would you
be able to look at yourself in the mirror? And how do you think other people
would treat you?
Isabelle Dinoire is someone who can answer all of these
questions honestly and openly.
Last November Isabelle was attacked and mauled by her
own dog. The attack was so severe that her lower face was damaged, it seemed,
almost beyond repair. She was rushed to hospital and became the first
person ever to have a face transplant.
With such severe injuries doctors offered
Isabelle little hope that they would be able to repair the damage to her face
using conventional surgery.
Shortly after being admitted, she came to the attention of Dr
Bernard Devauchelle who, unlike other surgeons, believed there was an
alternative: "We found ourselves saying, yes, it's clear this woman needs a
transplant," he said.
Two days after the operation she saw her face in the mirror
for the first time. She said "I was scared to look at myself, but when I did it
was already marvellous and I couldn't believe it. I thought it would be
blue and swollen but it was already beautiful."
Now, less than a year after her 15 hour operation, she’s
trying to rebuild her life and there is no doubt how she feels about her
new face: "I have been saved. Lots of people write saying that I need to go
on, that it's wonderful. It's a miracle somehow."
Although there were ethical questions raised about
their decision to carry out the procedure, the doctors who operated
on Isabelle are quick to defend their decision.
One of them said "Was it possible for her to live without
a face? It's easy to say we shouldn't have done the operation, but
her life has changed, she goes shopping, goes on holiday, she lives