MADRID (CBS/AP) Five years ago, Oscar, a 31-year-old Spanish farmer, accidentally blew his entire face off. He was unable to eat or breathe on his own.
Now, after a miraculous full face transplant surgery, Oscar is ready to face the world.
The surgery happened in March, but Monday Oscar appeared before television cameras for the first time to thank his doctors and the family of the donor.
He is eager to enjoy "little things, like walking down the street without anyone looking at him, or sitting down for a meal with his family. Doing things that all of us do on a normal day," Oscar's sister said during the press conference.
His last name is being withheld to protect the family's identity.
Oscar underwent a 24-hour surgery at Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona. Doctors lifted an entire face, including jaw, nose, cheekbones, muscles, teeth and eyelids, and placed it mask-like onto the man.
He is now able to drink liquids and eat soft foods, and has been able to speak for the past two months, the hospital said in a statement. The patient also has regained feeling in most of his face and is partly recovering movement of his muscles. One good sign was that a week after the operation, he had to be shaved because of beard growth.
But he also suffered acute rejection twice -- once four weeks after the surgery and again between the second and third months. Both times, the new face was saved with medication, the statement said.
Oscar will need between a year and 18 months of physical therapy and is expected to regain up to 90 percent of his facial functions, the head of the surgical team, Dr. Joan Pere Barret, said Monday
The first face transplant, albeit partial, was carried out in France in 2005 and since then about a dozen more have been done, including three in Spain.