The world's first face transplant recipient, Isabelle Dinoire, has died at age 49.
According to a statement from Amiens Hospital, which performed the procedure in November 2005, Dinoire died on April 22, 2016, "following a long illness."
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.
The hospital's statement also explained why there was a delay in publicly announcing her death.
"In accordance with the will of her relatives, no obituary was published in the press in order to protect their legitimate privacy at that painful time," the statement said.
The hospital did not provide details about the cause of Dinoire's death. French media, however, reported that she suffered complications from her latest operation.
Dinoire received the face transplant at the age of 38 after she was mauled by a dog.
According to CNN, French surgeons Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard and Dr. Bernard Devauchelle decided to replace Dinoire's nose, chin and mouth with that of a brain-dead donor.
The doctors were criticized for completing a face transplant procedure before attempting reconstructive surgery.
Despite criticism, Dr. Jean-Paul Meningaud, who runs the reconstructive surgery department at Henri Mondor Hospital in Paris, declared Dinoire's operation "an unquestionable surgical success."
Meningaud, who has taken part in seven of France's 10 face transplants, is now pushing for the medical community to suspend the procedures.
He said the medical community needs to determine whether the long-term benefits of the procedure are worth the physical and psychological toll for patients.
He added that the results in Dinoire's case "were very good in the medium term, but the long-term results were not so good."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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