A few weeks ago, the transplantation team of the University Hospital Gent, lead by Prof. Dr. Phillip Blondeel performed the first facial transplant in Belgium. The procedure succeeded completely and was performed without any problems. The patient is doing very well, 6 days after the operation he could drink and say his first words.
This is the 19th facial transplantation performed in the world. Belgium is also the third country in Europe, after France and Spain, who can offer this type of surgery.
The Ethics Committee and the board of the hospital gave full approval and fully supported this project. The procedure was prepared during almost 3 years by a team of almost 65 persons, from 15 medical and 14 paramedical departments of the University Hospital Gent. This teamwork and the coordination between the different departments has proven to be essential for the smooth progression of the operation and the post-operative care.
Extremely severe facial traumas are still a big problem in modern medicine. Fortunately these traumas are seen less and less, but until now, classical reconstructive techniques can only partially restore the functions of the face (speech, breathing, swallowing, feeding, drinking, mimic non-verbal expression, etc...) in an extensive series of expensive surgical procedures, each followed by a long revalidation time. Facial transplantation will restore all function of the face to normal in a single surgical procedure and return the patient a face.
The University Hospital Gent has the ambition to found a center for allotransplantation (transplantation of tissues between 2 individuals) of compound tissues besides the existing organ transplantation center. Besides the face, other transplantations of hands, arms, abdominal wall and all other body parts, which are very difficult to reconstruct, will be performed in the future. This first facial transplant is only the beginning of a long experience.
Prof. Dr. Phillip Blondeel
Prof. Dr. Hubert Vermeersch
Dr. Nathalie Roche
Dr. Filip Stillaert
Click here to see the complete list with all the team members of this project
Secretary Mrs. Evelien Vervaet
Phone: +32 9 332 32 27
Fax: +32 9 332 38 99