By Lena Sullivan Published 09/06/2016 21:33:00 | Views: 2502
Isabelle Dinoire said ‘a door to the future is opening’ after her transplant (Picture: Getty)

A woman who made history by receiving the world’s first partial face transplant has died at the age of 49.

The pioneering treatment given to Isabelle Dinoire 11 years ago, after she was mauled by her pet dog, has enabled dozens of other people to receive the life-changing transplant.

Ms Dinoire, who is French, died in April after a long illness, the Amiens University Hospital in northern France said.

The hospital did not disclose whether the illness was related to the transplant – although Le Figaro, which first reported her death, said she had suffered from two cancers linked to the transplant and lost partial use of her lips last year.

Severe side effects can be caused by the medications prescribed to face transplant patients to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new organs.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paul Cooper/REX/Shutterstock (594402f) Isabelle Dinoire walking her new dog, after her previous pet dog savaged her face Isabelle Dinoire, the World's First Face Transplant Patient, With her New Dog, Marlay, France - Jun 2006

She was eventually able to get a new dog (Picture: Rex)

Ms Dinoire was disfigured by her Labrador – but the ground-breaking operation that followed was considered a huge success.

Doctors Bernard Devauchelle and Jean-Michel Dubernard worked for 15 hours in the Amiens hospital to give her a new nose, chin and lips.

A year after the surgery, Ms Dinoire appeared positive at a news conference.

I can open my mouth and eat. I feel my lips, my nose and my mouth.

I have a face like everyone else. A door to the future is opening.

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2006 file photo, Isabelle Dinoire, the woman who received the world's first partial face transplant with a new nose, chin and mouth, in an operation on Nov. 27, 2005, addresses reporters during her first press conference since the transplant at the Amiens hospital, northern France. The 38-year-old woman was mauled by a dog, leaving her with severe facial injuries that her doctors said made it difficult for her to speak and eat. Dinoire who received the worldís first partial face transplant has died, 11 years after surgery that set the stage for dozens of other transplants around the world. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, FILE)

The operation was hailed as a success (Picture: AP)

The medical breakthrough has led to 40 face transplant surgeries around the world since 2005.

A divorced mother of two teenage daughters, Ms Dinoire said she was wrestling with personal problems at the time of the dog attack and ‘took some drugs to forget’.

She said she was passed out when the dog bit her.

The transplant she received from a brain-dead woman was hailed as a medical breakthrough.

Initially, her immune system nearly rejected the transplant twice – but a year later, doctors said she was gaining more and more sensitivity and facial mobility, and she got a new dog.

But Dr Jean-Paul Meningaud, who heads the reconstructive surgery department at the Henri Mondor Hospital, thinks such procedures should be suspended while doctors consider if the benefits are worth the physical and psychological toll the surgery has on patients.

He said: ‘The results were very good in the medium term, but the long-term results were not so good.’

By Lena Sullivan 09/06/2016 21:33:00

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