The French woman who had the world's first face transplant braved hundreds of reporters Monday to show her new face on camera. Isabelle Dinoire has a few scars around her nose and cheek, but says she is looking forward to a new start.
"Now I can open my mouth and I can eat. And I can feel my lips and my nose and of course, I have to do a lot more exercises and work every week in order to reactivate all the muscles," says Dinoire.
The 38-year-old mother of two was badly disfigured after being mauled by her own dog. In the 15 hour operation, transplant surgeons gave her a new nose and mouth area...meaning the skin, muscles and arteries were all transplanted from a donor who had been brain dead. Among other things, her skin color was a good match.
It's been 10 weeks now, and surgeons say the success of the transplant will depend on her ability to stick to a strict routine of taking a lot of medication. Here in the U.S., Dr. Maria Sieminon of the Cleveland Clinic is planning the first face transplant, but is still looking for the right patient with extreme facial damage.
"They are hiding. They are wearing masks when the family members come visiting. They are not having normal lives," says Dr. Sieminon.
Meanwhile, as the French celebrate their medical breakthrough there is one big concern about Dinoire's new face. She is a smoker, and that could slow the recovery by interfering with blood flow to the transplant.