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Johns Hopkins To Offer Face Transplants

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- This spring, the University of Maryland Medical Center became the first in the state to perform a face transplant. And now, Johns Hopkins Hospital gets the green light to offer this medical breakthrough as well.

Mary Bubala has more.

The approval was given in late July, and now, Johns Hopkins has a team in place to deliver the institution's first facial transplant.

"The rare benefits of facial transplantation is that you can replace all the missing parts with exactly what they need," Dr. Chad Gordon, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at JHH, said.

Gordon was on the team that preformed the first transplant in the U.S. Only six have been performed in this country, including one at UMMC in March.

A gunshot to Richard Lee Norris' face left him disfigured, but a 72-hour facial transplant transformed him as the team at the University of Maryland transplanted a new donor jaw, teeth and tongue.

"The team used innovative surgical practices and computerized techniques to precisely-- and I would say amazingly-- transplant the entire face," said Gordon.

Hopkins has developed its own protocols for the facial transplant that will focus on insuring a patient's body doesn't reject the new facial components.

"You are not just replacing the bone anymore. You are replacing the whole facial structure which we almost consider an organ, just like a liver and kidney," Gordon said.

Twenty-two face transplants have been performed throughout the world. This surgery is considered one of the most complicated medical procedures available.

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