It seems like a success, but, as we are reminded in this interview with Dr. Eugene Alford from Baylor College of Medicine, the doctor is the same doctor who did the first hand transplant, and that hand later had to be amputated. Imagine the major downer it would be to have to have your face removed after the intense upper of having a new one after a dog mauled you.
Further, Dr. Alford points out the lack of research surrounding the procedure. What's funny to me is he also points out that there was no "ethics review with this patient or the surgery" which is comical because, what's the implication? That the woman wasn't told that it's a no-no to go out and play practical jokes on people with her identity now that she has a new face? I am moving to the forefront of the debat here by declaring, and this is the final word on the subject, if the procedure is not medically problematic then it is no more ethically problematic than a kidney transplant. So there!
In other news: The Bioethics.net reports the ABC News story that the woman has now sold the movie rights to her story. Jonathon Moreno, bioethicist at the University of Virginia, is quoted:
"Physicians are supposed to protect their patients who must be emotionally vulnerable in this situation," said Moreno, a professor of biomedical ethics at the University of Virginia. "Her psychological counseling should have included assessing the implications of this offer."
Rosamond Rhodes, bioethicist from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, justifies the woman's decision as a matter of monetary need:
"Even if her medical expenses are fully covered by the French national health system, it is hard to see how she would have had an income since she was mauled, how she can work during her recovery or how she will find employment in the future," Rhodes said.
Ok, sure she's "emotionally vulnerable", but what are these "implications"? Why should she not sell her story if somebody's buying? Even if she were independently wealthy, why is it at all problematic that someone says, "We want to make your story into a movie," and she says, "Ok, write me a check"?
The real controversy of face transplantation, like all "living donor" transplantation, is the Terri-Schiavo-like nature of the donor. I was not overly troubled by Terri Schiavo's story, or stories like it, but I was a little bit. From a mother's perspective (and I'm not a mother of course) I can see how there could be a glimmer of hope that the ghost is still in the machine, with Terri's eyes moving back and forth and her "laughing" and moaning. This story argues similarly that "Brain Death" is not really death at all. But, of course it is, right?