The 38-year-old French woman who received the world’s first partial face transplant reports that she has complete feeling in the new tissue. During the 15-hour surgery, a team of doctors replaced a gaping hole from a dog mauling with a partial face that included a new nose, mouth, and chin.

“Each day that passes, I think, above all, of the donor and her family whom I cannot thank enough,” says Isabelle Dinoire, mother of two. “We must not forget that today, thanks to them, I have become visible again.”

According to her report, her journey to full recovery is far from being over. Each week, she visits the Amiens hospital in France for a battery of tests, re-education sessions, and visits with a psychologist. Each month, she must travel to a hospital in Lyon, in southeast France, to receive an antirejection treatment so that her body will accept the new tissue. In addition, she must examine a small patch of skin from the donor on her stomach and face several times a day.

However, the hardest part, according to Dinoire, is getting to know herself again. She takes out old photos and, shocked at the difference, tells herself that she has simply aged.

[Associated Press, May 01, 2006]