Rafael, a man who underwent partial face transplant in January, appears in public for the first time in a news conference at the Virgen del Rocio University Hospital in Seville, Spain, on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Doctors replaced the bottom two-thirds of his face because of a congenital disease that left it deformed with benign tumors.
Rafael poses with chief surgeon, Tomas Gomez Cia, during a news conference at Virgen del Rocio hospital in Seville, Spain. Rafael, who received the lower face transplant at the hospital in January, suffered from neurofibromatosis, a genetically-inherited disorder which caused facial tumors.
Rafael embraces a nurse during the news conference. Doctors said Rafael had asked to address the media because of its interest in his case and because he thought appearing in public would encourage donations in cases like his. Rafael said now he wants the media to respect his privacy. "I want to be left alone," he said.
Rafael poses for a photo with his mother Juana during the news conference. The operation is the second time the procedure has been performed in Spain.
After the operation, Rafael, who is seen here hugging his mother, recognized himself in the mirror and liked what he saw, Dr. Tomas Gomez Cia said. "Not only did he not see himself as a monster, but rather he also thought he looked younger."
Months of rehabilitation await him, but Rafael can now distinguish between hot and cold and feel pain in his lips.
Last month a team of surgeons in Barcelona carried out the world's first full-face transplant on a young Spanish farmer unable to breathe or eat on his own since accidentally shooting himself in the face five years ago.
During the 24-hour surgery, doctors lifted an entire face, including jaw, nose, cheekbones, muscles, teeth and eyelids, and placed it "mask-like" onto the man.
Dr. Joan Pere Barret poses for a portrait next to Magnetic Resonance Images of the man who underwent the transplant. Barret was the lead surgeon of a 30-member medical team at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron Hospital.
It was the most extensive operation yet and the 11th known face transplant worldwide. The Spanish patient, who was not identified, now has a completely new face from his hairline down and only one visible scar, which looks like a wrinkle running across his neck. Other face transplant operations have been carried out in France, China and the United States.
A Spanish man who underwent a partial face transplant hugged his surgeon and expressed gratitude to the donor's family as he appeared in public for the first time since the January operation.