Spanish Doctors Complete First-Ever Tongue, Jaw Transplant

Spanish doctors completed the first-ever transplant of a tongue and jaw Tuesday, surgeon Pedro Cavadas said Friday.

The 43-year-old patient, who lost the lower half of his face during treatment for a malignant tumor 11 years ago, is recovering well and could be released in 10 days, Cavadas told a news conference in Valencia.

The unidentified patient was given a tongue and jaw as part of a face transplant operation, the first carried out in Spain.

"The patient should recover the capacity to speak intelligibly, to swallow .... recover sensitivity in his tongue and his face," the Spanish surgeon said.

Tuesday's transplant, the eighth involving a face since the surgery was pioneered in 2005, was particularly difficult because previous surgery had rendered the veins, arteries and nerves normally connected in these operations useless, Cavadas said.