18 Dec 2008

Transplant replaces 80 percent of woman's face

10:28 pm on 18 December 2008

Surgeons in the United States have replaced 80 percent of a woman's face, in what is considered the world's most extensive facial transplant.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio moulded the donor's facial tissue onto the muscles and bones of a severely disfigured woman so that the reconstructed face would not resemble the donor.

The 22-hour operation - which took place two weeks ago - was the fourth face transplant worldwide and the most ambitious so far.

The leader of the reconstruction team, Maria Siemionow, says the surgery was the culmination of 20 years of preparation.

Dr Siemionow says the woman has responded well to surgery and her body is showing no signs of rejecting the new face.