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The woman who received the first-ever near-total face transplant in the United States told her doctor she has regained her self-confidence, said Dr. Maria Siemionow, head of plastic surgery research at the Cleveland Clinic and leader of the transplant team.

The patient, who prefers to be anonymous, is finally able to breathe through her nose, smell, eat solid foods and drink out of a cup, Siemionow told participants of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago over the weekend.

The complex surgery, a 22-hour procedure, took place in December at the Cleveland Clinic. The patient received her new face in one graft from a donor cadaver.

"I believe this procedure is justified because you need a face to face the world," Siemionow said. Watch an animation of the face transplant

The patient had previously "suffered severe facial trauma," the Cleveland Clinic said. She had no nose, right eye or upper jaw before the procedure, and could not smell or eat normally. People would call her names on the street, Siemionow said. Read full article »

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