A Frenchman has become the first person in history to undergo two full face transplants.
Jerome Hamon, 43, left hospital last week for the first time since the groundbreaking surgery that has led his country’s media to dub him “the man with three faces”.
“I feel very well in myself,” he told reporters, adding he was adjusting to his new “identity”.
Mr Hamon suffers from neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic disorder that caused disfiguring tumours on his face.
In 2010 he underwent the world’s first full facial graft that included tear ducts and eyelids.
The procedure was a success, but five years later he was prescribed antibiotics for a common cold which were incompatible with the immunosuppressant drugs he was taking to lower the risk of the transplant being rejected.
His body began to reject the new face in 2016 and in November surgeons were forced to remove it.
Unable to see, hear or speak, Mr Hamon lived in a room at Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris for two months before a new donor – the face of a 22-year-old who recently died – was found.
He underwent the unprecedented surgery on 15 and 16 January this year.
The operation was carried out by Professor Laurent Lantieri, a hand and face transplant specialist who had performed Mr Hamon’s initial surgery eight years earlier.
Mr Hamon underwent three months of special blood treatment to fend of the increased risk of rejection, and the procedure appears to have been a success.
“Today, we know that a double transplant is feasible, it’s no longer in the field of research,” Professor Lantieri told Le Parisien.
Mr Hamon does not yet have full control of his features, but he is optimistic about the future. Last week he left the hospital for a weekend to visit his family in Brittany.
“If I hadn’t accepted this new face it would have been terrible,” he told AFP news agency. ”It’s a question of identity… But here we are, it’s good, it’s me.”
Bernard Cholley, the hospital’s professor of anaesthesia and intensive care, said medics were ”amazed by [Mr Hamon’s] courage, overwhelmed by his strength and character”.
He added: “He never complained. We felt we were dealing with someone exceptional.”