AMIENS, France, Sept. 6 (UPI) — A French woman who received the world’s first partial face transplant has died after a long illness, doctors have confirmed. She was 49.
Isabelle Dinoire, who lost her mouth and nose after a dog bite, was given a partial face transplant using tissue from a brain-dead woman in a 15-hour operation at Amiens hospital on Nov. 27, 2005.
Dinoire died in April, Le Figaro revealed. Doctors said they hadn’t announced her death in order to protect her family’s privacy.
The exact cause of death wasn’t reported. Le Figaro reported her body had rejected the transplant last year “and she had lost part of the use of her lips.”
The anti-rejection drugs left her vulnerable to cancer and two cancers had developed, the paper said.
At 38, Dinoire received the nose, lips and chin from a brain-dead donor to replace parts of her face mauled by her Labrador-mix Tania.
Dinoire, a seamstress, had taken a large dose of sleeping pills “to forget” her troubles in an attempt to kill herself. Because the dog woke her up by attacking, she credits it with saving her life.
With “the face of a monster,” according to The Guardian, she had no mouth and her teeth and gums were exposed, skull-like.
In 2009, she told BBC she saw a mixture of herself and the donor in the mirror. “The donor is always with me,” she said.
She discovered her donor had killed herself.
Since Dinoire’s partial face transplant 30 people worldwide have had similar treatment, according to a report last November in New York Magazine.
That includes Patrick Hardison, 42, a former Mississippi firefighter burned while fighting a fire 15 years ago. He received a transplant in August 2015 at NYU Langone Medical Center.