Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, December 26, 2002
Ethical minefield dogs face transplant pioneer.

Alternatively, fierce attacks face plastic surgeon.

Consultant plastic surgeon Peter Butler has called for public discussion before he attempts to graft the face of a dead donor onto a burn victim or someone suffering from face cancer.

Editor of Britain's Bulletin of Medical Ethics Richard Nicholson, says the idea strays too far from medicine's Hippocratic roots.

"My gut reaction is that we are pressing too far, too fast with ideas that impinge on our understanding of what normality is," he said
without apparent irony.

Butler says a face transplant could mean a deformity was spotted only at one metre away rather than 15 metres at present.

"I suspect they (the patients) don't understand how much of a rigid mask it may turn out to's going to be very difficult to get any of the nerves and muscles that control facial expression working again."

That's right! Just ask Simon Crean.