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A Spanish hospital said Thursday it performed the world's first complete face transplant in March on a man who could not swallow, breath or talk normally following an accident fiveyears ago.

While eleven other face transplants have been carried out around the world previously, Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital said they involved only part of the patient's face.During twenty two hours, the unidentified young man received new facial muscles, skin, nose, lips, jaw, teeth, palate and cheekbones, the leader of the medical team that carried outthe procedure, Dr. Barret, told a news conference.

A team of thirty experts carried out the transplant on March twenty and care was taken to ensure that the patient's new face wascreated in the likeness of the face he had before the unspecified accident and did not resemble that of the anonymous donor.

« The patient has scars on his forehead and neck, but inthe future they will be fully concealed. » Barret said.

« He saw himself in the mirror when he wanted to and when psychologists said that he was ready. It was a week after theoperation and he reacted well, he was calm and satisfied. » he added.

The first successful face transplant was performed in France in two thousand and five on Isabelle Dinoire, a thirtyeight year old woman who had been mauled by her dog.

Since then face transplants have been carried out in China, the United States of America and Spain, which carried out its first suchoperation in August two thousand and nine.

Spain led the world in organ donations in two thousand and nine for the eighteenth consecutive year, according to the health ministry.Spain's public health care system, which offers universal coverage as a constitutionally-guaranteed right, is ranked the seventh best in the world by the World Health Organisation.
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