Face transplant patient utters his first words

Face transplant patient utters his first words

ANTALYA - Anatolia News Agency
Face transplant patient utters his first words

Acar’s first visitors at the hospital ward were Antalya Gov. Ahmet Altıparmak (L) and Professor Israfil Kurtcephe, Akdeniz University’s rector (R), Jan 24. DHA photo

Uğur Acar, the first person in Turkish history to receive a full face transplant, has spoken for the first time despite doctors’ predictions that he would not be able to speak for another two days.

“He said ‘welcome.’ [His voice] was a bit muffled, but it was more than sufficient for us. He expressed his hunger and thirst. That was much better than what we had expected,” Assistant Professor Özlenen Özkan, of Akdeniz University in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, said at a press meeting yesterday.

Özlenen Özkan also said they had discussed with Acar about whether he should watch television but added that they eventually decided against it because he might see his face on the screen.

“He responded with arm and hand gestures that this was not a problem for him. That made us happy,” she said, adding that Acar, who was removed from the intensive care ward Jan. 24, had also begun to grow some facial hair as well.

Meanwhile, Atilla Kavdır who also underwent a parallel, triple-limb transplant with limbs taken from the same donor, is also in much better shape even though he must remain in intensive care for another couple of days, Özlenen Özkan said.

Tissue and organ rejection is the greatest risk for both patients, but neither patient has yet encountered the problem, Associate Professor Hüseyin Koçak said at the meeting.

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel called Professor Ömer Özkan, who led the team of 25 doctors that conducted the transplants, to express his pride at the operation.