The world’s first man to undergo a full face transplant held his first press conference to speak about the success of his surgery.
The 31-year-old Spanish man, who is only identified by the name Oscar, spoke with considerable difficulty at the news conference held at Vall d’Hebron hospital, where he was operated on in late March.
The 24-hour surgery allowed doctors to lift an entire face, including jaw, nose, cheekbones, muscles, teeth and eyelids, and placed it masklike onto Oscar’s.
Oscar had to have a face transplant after accidentally shooting himself in the face five years ago.
The incident left Oscar unable to breathe or eat on his own and after several facial reconstruction procedures, he underwent the total face transplant.
Although the surgery was a success, the head of the surgical team, Dr. Joan Pere Barret, states that the man will need between a year and 18 months of physical therapy and is expected to regain up to 90 percent of his facial functions.
Oscar is reportedly already seeing vast improvement. In the press conference doctors reported that he is now able to drink liquids and eat soft foods and has been able to speak for the past two months.
Doctors also report that Oscar has regained feeling in most of his face and is partly recovering movement of his muscles and had to be shaved because of beard growth.
Doctors were skeptical about the success of the surgery initially after Oscar suffered acute rejection twice — once four weeks after the surgery and again between the second and third months. Both times, the new face was saved with medication.
Although he has a long road to recovery, Oscar reportedly seemed relaxed as he looked out at reporters with eyes he cannot yet close completely.
His sister states that not only is his family eager to have him home, but that Oscar is eager to enjoy “little things, like walking down the street without anyone looking at him, or sitting down for a meal with his family. Doing things that all of us do on a normal day.”
Even though Oscar is reportedly the first man to have successfully undergone a full face transplant, a medical team in France announced a similar operation earlier this month, saying a 35-year-old man with a genetic disorder has an entirely new face, including tear ducts that cry and a chin that sprouts stubble.