Face transplant patient thanks docs

A 34-year-old Spanish face transplant patient Tuesday appeared before the press with his new face, saying he was "happy" and thanking his donor and medical team.

The man, whose name was given as Rafael, underwent a 30-hour operation on January 25 and 26 at Seville's Virgen del Rocio hospital. More than 100 medical professionals participated directly or indirectly in the operation.

The operation was "very complex" because it involved transplanting large amounts of facial tissue, doctor Tomas Gomez Cia said.

Rafael received the transplant because he suffered from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder which made tumours grow on his face.

Rafael can now feel cold and warm temperatures on his face and has started shaving, though he still has difficulty talking.

Two other face transplants have also been performed in Spain. -(Sinikka Tarvainen/Sapa, May 2010)

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