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LOCAL > Turkish surgeons in country's first face transplant

ANTALYA - Anatolia News Agency

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The 25-strong team of surgeons led by
Dr. Ömer Özkan make history, performing
Turkey’s first-ever face transplant. AA photo

The 25-strong team of surgeons led by Dr. Ömer Özkan make history, performing Turkey’s first-ever face transplant. AA photo

Turkish surgeons successfully performed the country’s first-ever face transplant, as well as a triple limb transplant, on Jan. 21.

A team of doctors at Akdeniz University Hospital in the southern province of Antalya performed the operations, using the limbs and face of 39-year-old Ahmet Kaya, who died Jan. 20, for patients Atilla Kavdır and Uğur Acar.

Acar, 19, lost his face when he suffered severe burns in a house fire when he was a baby. “The reason I wanted to have this surgery was because I couldn’t get a job and frightened children,” Acar said after receiving Turkey’s first-ever such transplant.

Kavdır, 34, received two arms and a leg in the transplant on Jan. 21, but doctors said yesterday that they had been forced to surgically remove the leg after his body rejected the transplant.

Before the operation, Kavdır said he most looked forward to holding his children in his arms.

Kavdır lost his arms and right leg when he was 11 years old after he electrocuted himself by hitting a power line outside his home with an iron rod to scare away pigeons.

Dr. Ömer Özkan, who headed a 25-member team conducting the transplants, said both patients were being cared for in the intensive care unit and were “doing well.”

The full face transplant lasted nine hours, while the limb transplants took 12 hours, according to reports.

“We have a critical 10- to 15-day period ahead of us for both operations, but if we pull through this period, we will make history,” Özkan said.

Özkan also paid tribute to Kaya’s family, saying one family had donated a face and limbs at the same time for the first time in Turkey’s history.

Kaya fell into a coma after attempting to kill himself Jan. 8. After he died Jan. 20, his family agreed to donate his organs and limbs to patients awaiting transplants.

The world’s first double-arm transplant was in Germany in 2008, while the first double-leg transplant took place in Spain in July 2011.

More than a dozen face transplants have been carried out around the world, starting in November 2005 with a French woman who was mauled by her dog. The first face transplant in the United States was in December 2008.

January/23/2012

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