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Polish man gets quick face transplant after injury

  • In this picture publicly provided by the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, Poland, a  33-year-old Polish man whose face was torn off by stone-cutting machinery gives a thumbs-up gesture on Tuesday May 21, 2013, six days after undergoing a total face transplant in Gliwice, Poland. Doctors at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice described the surgery at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it was the first time a life-saving face transplant was carried out soon after a recipient suffered damage. There have been several other transplants in recent years but in those cases doctors had months or years to prepare. The Polish patient suffered his accident on April 23, 2013.(AP Photo/Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice)

    In this picture publicly provided by the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, Poland, a 33-year-old Polish man whose face was torn off by stone-cutting machinery gives a thumbs-up gesture on Tuesday May 21, 2013, six days after undergoing a total face transplant in Gliwice, Poland. Doctors at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice described the surgery at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it was the first time a life-saving face transplant was carried out soon after a recipient suffered damage. There have been several other transplants in recent years but in those cases doctors had months or years to prepare. The Polish patient suffered his accident on April 23, 2013.(AP Photo/Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice)

  • In this picture publicly provided by the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, Poland, a  33-year-old Polish man whose face was torn off by stone-cutting machinery gives a thumbs-up gesture on Tuesday May 21, 2013, six days after undergoing a total face transplant in Gliwice, Poland. Doctors at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice described the surgery at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it was the first time a life-saving face transplant was carried out soon after a recipient suffered damage. There have been several other transplants in recent years but in those cases doctors had months or years to prepare. The Polish patient suffered his accident on April 23, 2013.(AP Photo/Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice)

    In this picture publicly provided by the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, Poland, a 33-year-old Polish man whose face was torn off by stone-cutting machinery gives a thumbs-up gesture on Tuesday May 21, 2013, six days after undergoing a total face transplant in Gliwice, Poland. Doctors at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice described the surgery at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it was the first time a life-saving face transplant was carried out soon after a recipient suffered damage. There have been several other transplants in recent years but in those cases doctors had months or years to prepare. The Polish patient suffered his accident on April 23, 2013.(AP Photo/Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice)

  • In this picture publicly provided by the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, Poland, a  33-year-old Polish man whose face was torn off by stone-cutting machinery gives a thumbs-up gesture on Tuesday May 21, 2013, six days after undergoing a total face transplant in Gliwice, Poland. Doctors at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice described the surgery at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it was the first time a life-saving face transplant was carried out soon after a recipient suffered damage. There have been several other transplants in recent years but in those cases doctors had months or years to prepare. The Polish patient suffered his accident on April 23, 2013.(AP Photo/Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice)
  • In this picture publicly provided by the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, Poland, a  33-year-old Polish man whose face was torn off by stone-cutting machinery gives a thumbs-up gesture on Tuesday May 21, 2013, six days after undergoing a total face transplant in Gliwice, Poland. Doctors at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice described the surgery at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it was the first time a life-saving face transplant was carried out soon after a recipient suffered damage. There have been several other transplants in recent years but in those cases doctors had months or years to prepare. The Polish patient suffered his accident on April 23, 2013.(AP Photo/Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice)

A 33-year-old Polish man received a face transplant just three weeks after being disfigured in a workplace accident, in what his doctors said yesterday is the fastest time frame to date for such an operation. It was Poland’s first face transplant.

Face transplants are extraordinarily complicated and relatively rare procedures that usually require extensive preparation of the recipient over a period of months or years. But medical officials said the Polish patient’s condition was deteriorating so rapidly that a transplant was seen as the only way to save his life.

In a photo taken Tuesday, just six days after the surgery, the patient, identified only by his first name, Grzegorz, was shown giving a thumbs-up sign from his hospital bed.

He was injured in an April 23 accident at his job at a stone mason’s workshop when a machine used to cut stone tore off most of his face and crushed his upper jaw.

He received intensive treatment at a hospital in Wroclaw that saved his life and eyesight. But an attempt to reattach his own face failed, doctors said.

So he was taken to the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, the only place in Poland licensed to perform face transplants. The center has experience in facial reconstruction for patients disfigured by cancer and its experts have practiced face transplants on cadavers.

Doctors at the center said the 27-hour face and bone transplant was performed May 15 soon after a matching donor was found.

The head of the team of surgeons and other specialists, Dr. Adam Maciejewski, said it was the first time a face transplant was carried out so soon after the damage.

The Associated Press

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