Face Transplant Patient Goes Public

Spanish man happy with result of procedure
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2010 4:06 PM CDT
Rafael appears in public for the first time in a news conference at the Virgen del Rocio University Hospital in Seville, Spain, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – One of the first recipients of a partial face transplant is showing the world his new look. Known only as Rafael, the man underwent surgery in January at a Spanish hospital, where the lower two-thirds of his face was replaced with tissue from a dead person, AOL News reports. Rafael needed the transplant because he was born with neurofibromatosis, a condition in which his face was populated with non-cancerous tumors.

"I want to thank the donor's family and the medical team," said Rafael, who the AP reports spoke with difficulty. Added a doctor: "Not only did he not see himself as a monster, but rather he also thought he looked younger." Though he hopes his story encourages donors, Rafael says he won't be staying in the spotlight. He'd prefer "to be left alone." (Read more face transplant stories.)

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