I have never quite understood the media’s vapors over “face transplants.” After all, if we can transplant a liver or a heart, why not replacing flesh on a face that has been badly deformed by a terrible accident? There is certainly no substantive ethical distinction between that and, say, breast reconstruction after mastectomy. And who can deny the great joy and hope it offers patients. From the story of a successful procedure performed on a burn victim in the Spain:
A Spaniard who had one of the world’s first partial face transplants has spoken of his joy on seeing his new visage. Speaking at a press conference at a hospital in Seville, the patient named only as Rafael said: ‘I am full of joy and happiness. I want to thank the family of the donor and the medical team.’ And Dr Gonzalez Padilla said the patient ‘recognised himself’ when he first saw himself in a mirror after the surgery, adding: ‘He didn’t see himself as a monster, in fact he thought he looked younger.’ Rafael was the second person in Spain and the ninth in the world to receive a partial face transplant. He appeared before the media at the Virgen del Rocio Hospital in the southern city, where he underwent a 30-hour operation on January 26 and 27. He has since been released from hospital, feels pain, heat and cold in his face, and has started shaving.
But I digress. (Sorry. The entire plastic surgery scene makes me crabby.) So, let’s rejoice with the growing number of face transplant recipients and then leave these hurting people alone.