Chinese media reports girl receives new face first grown on chest


A Chinese burn victim has a new face reportedly thanks to skin that was grown on her breast.

Chinese state media organization Xinhua reported that 17-year-old Xu Jianmei received a new face using skin that had been grafted from her leg and grown on her chest. Doctors said on Tuesday that the procedure was "very successful."

Xinhua reported that Xu had sustained burns on 95 percent of her hands and face when she was five years old. However, her family was poor and could not afford medical treatment.

A hospital in Xiamen offered to pay the cost for her face transplant.

"First, we took a piece of blood vessel fascia from her thigh and implanted it in her chest. Then we inserted a skin expander beneath the part of skin where the blood vessel fascia was planted, so that the part could expand and produce enough skin for her new face," Jiang Chenghong, Xu's surgeon, said to Xinhua.

After the tissue was kept alive, it was transplanted to Xu's face.

The procedure was completed last Monday. Doctors hope the scars from the skin grafts will fade over time.

"With her new face she will be able to express herself in a more precise way. She will even be able to blush when her emotions change, but it will take a long time," Chenhong said.

The BBC added that this surgery was especially important for China, because the country is pushing for more innovative medical techniques. The procedure was similar to another one done in Fujian in September, when a man had a new nose grown on his forehead. That tissue was taken from his ribs.

This procedure is not the same as a full face transplant, where the face of a donor is transplanted onto a different person. China did complete a donor face transplant in 2006, but the patient died two years later after he stopped taking anti-rejection medications, the BBC reported.

For more on the procedure, watch Xinhua's report (GRAPHIC VIDEO).