The woman who received the world’s first partial face transplant died today, just over a decade after the surgery that changed lives for the numerous transplants that followed worldwide.
The Amiens University Hospital in northern France officially announced Isabelle Dinoire’s death on September 6. The hospital did reveal that she actually passed away in April after a lengthy illness, though her family wanted to keep her passing private. She was 49.
Besides that, the hospital didn’t detail anything further, making it unclear if the illness was related to her transplant in any way.
Dinoire required face transplant surgery after being maimed by her pet Labrador, needing a new nose, chin, and lips. She underwent the procedure in 2005 by doctors Bernard Devauchelle and Jean-Michel Dubernard.
Again, there’s no clarity on if the illness was related to the transplant, though medications transplant patients must take so their bodies accept the new organs, can cause illness or other potent side effects.
Dinoire’s immune system nearly rejected the organs two times after the surgery. A year later, she significantly improved, gaining more sensitivity and facial mobility. She even got herself a new dog.
“I can open my mouth and eat. I feel my lips, my nose and my mouth,” Dinoire said at a news conference in 2006.
“I have a face like everyone else,” she said. “A door to the future is opening.”