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Science
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 31 January
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Tuesday 31 January 2006
Face

Full programme transcript >>

Face Transplants

In November last year, surgeons in France performed the first partial face transplant on a woman who had been mauled by her dog. In this week's programme, Mark Porter examines current facial reconstructive surgery and explores the possibilities of full and partial face transplantation.

Dr Porter's guest in the studio, Mr Peter Butler, is a consultant plastic surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital . He was given permission by his hospital's ethics committee to identify a patient to be given a face transplant. They will be discussing the benefits and risks of this operation, and how close we are to seeing a face transplant performed in the UK .

Current Reconstruction
Face transplantation surgery has not yet happened in the UK . So what are the options currently available to patients with facial disfigurement? Mark travels to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead , where badly burned pilots were treated in World War II. Maxillo-facial surgeon Ken Lavery discusses the facial reconstruction techniques used today.

Risks
The operation is not without risks. There is a risk of rejection and the patient will be on a long-term prescription of immuno-suppressant drugs. There are also psychological concerns about the impact of potential change in a patient's appearance. James Partridge from the charity Changing Faces, who was himself badly burnt in a car accident, raises cautions about whether we are ready for this procedure.

Donation
There are also issues surrounding the donation of face tissue - how keen will people be to give permission for the face of a recently deceased loved one to be donated? Might it put people off donating any organs?
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