According to The Times of London, doctors at the University of Louisville have been performing face transplants on cadavers for several years. Now, they've applied for formal permission from the University's review board to try the procedure on the living.
As you can imagine, the potential operation is stirring up controversy. Many doctors believe the dangers of the procedure are so great it would be wrong to attempt it.
But the Louisville team, lead by Dr. John Barker, think the benefits far outweigh the risks. Barker says transplanting a face from a dead donor would be easier than reattaching the patient's damaged face--And the procedure has already been done three times on test subjects with good cosmetic results. Unlike the movie "Face Off," the person receiving a face transplant will not look like the donor. The recipient will share some of the donor's features, such as the shape of a mouth or nose, but a new identity will be created altogether. And that gives great hope to the potential recipients, all of whom are severely disfigured either from birth, an accident or a fire. If the application is approved, the team hopes to start selecting potential donors and recipients within the next few months, and attempt the first face transplant on a real patient who needs it, by the end of this year.