Face transplantation: a review of the technical, immunological, psychological and clinical issues with recommendations for good practice

Transplantation. 2007 Jan 27;83(2):109-28. doi: 10.1097/01.tp.0000254201.89012.ae.


Three years ago, the Working Party on Facial Transplantation concluded that until there was more information available about risks any potential patient would be exposed to, it would be unwise to proceed with transplantation of the human face. Over the last three years, there has been a deepening understanding of the potential psychological problems of facial transplantation as well as a very considerable debate on the ethical aspects of the procedure. Further data on experimental work in animal models of facial transplantation as well as medium-term follow-up data from 24 hand and forearm transplants in 18 patients has now become available. Furthermore, a partial facial transplantation has been performed in France and a second one in China. In this second edition of the report, the technical, immunological, psychological, and ethical issues are discussed again in the light of this developing knowledge. In particular, there has been a major expansion of the sections on the psychological and societal issues, as well as the ethical and legal problems of facial transplantation. The working party still has considerable reservations about facial transplantation. Although it accepts that on balance the risks cannot be precisely quantified, they remain substantial. Therefore, if patients are allowed to make an informed choice to proceed, they must be very carefully selected and protected in the process, along with the families of both the donors and the recipients. To achieve this, the working party insists that 15 minimum requirements, described at the end of this report, must be fulfilled before it would be appropriate for a research ethics committee/institutional review board to approve of a proposal to undertake facial transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Face / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Psychology, Social
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue Transplantation* / methods
  • Tissue Transplantation* / psychology
  • Tissue Transplantation* / standards