A team of Chinese medics have given a teenage girl a new face after growing it on her breast
Xu Jianmei, 17, was left horrifically disfigured by a fire when she was just five-years-old. This week she had surgery in the city of Fuzhou, in Fujian province, in the southeast of the country.huffingtonpost.co.uk
She woke up after the operation to find that she once again had a chin, eyelids and an ear.
But she said the best thing is that she can now smile properly for the first time in 12 years.
Xu’s parents had been unable to afford the surgery needed to improve their daughter’s life, but their luck changed when Chinese medics working on pioneering new transplant technology offered her the surgery for free.dailymail.co.uk
Smiling again: Xu Jianmei was badly burned when she was just 5
It took a series of 8-hour operations, but the teen now has her own chin, eyelids and eyes
The transplant team in China’s Fujian province built Xu’s new face using a blood vessel from her leg and a water-filled balloon to expand her skin
The team then took several months to grow the new face until it was large enough to cover her missing facial features.nydailynews.com
Video footage after last week's eight-hour surgery shows Xu lying in a hospital bed, barely conscious and severely swollen, but with smooth flesh now replacing the ridged scars of her old face.ndtv.com
"With her new face she will be able to express herself in a more precise way. She will even be able to blush when her emotions change, but it will take a long time," her surgeon, Jiang Chenhong said.telegraph.co.uk
"First, we took a piece of blood vessel fascia from her thigh and implanted it in her chest. Then we inserted a skin expander beneath the part of skin where the blood vessel fascia was planted, so that the part could expand and produce enough skin for her new face," Jiang added.huffingtonpost.co.uk
According to the BBC, the transplant marks a ground-breaking moment in Chinese medicine
Xu (pictured after her surgery) said the best thing is she can now smile properly for the first time in 12 years
The procedure follows a similar operation in which another group of Chinese doctors gave a car accident victim a new nose by growing it first on his forehead.