Frenchwoman who received world’s first face transplant dies at 49

PARIS — Isabelle Dinoire, a Frenchwoman who received the world’s first partial face transplant, has died 11 years after the surgery that set the stage for dozens of other transplants worldwide. She was 49.

The Amiens University Hospital in northern France said in a statement Tuesday that Dinoire died in April after a long illness. The hospital didn’t release any further details and it wasn’t clear if her illness was related to the transplant.

Her family wanted her death kept private. But the hospital went public with the death after Le Figaro reported on it.

After being severely disfigured by her pet Labrador, Dinoire was given a new nose, chin and lips in a groundbreaking, 15-hour operation in 2005 led by doctors Bernard Devauchelle and Jean-Michel Dubernard in the Amiens hospital. When she first appeared in public with her new face four months later, her speech was slurred and a scar clearly visible — but the fact that she could speak to reporters of having a “face like everyone else” and almost smile was seen as a medical breakthrough.

The operation changed Dinoire’s life and drew international attention. There have been nearly 40 face transplant surgeries around the world since 2005, including one last year in New York that was the first to include a scalp and functioning eyelids.

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