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8 Major Milestones in Facial Transplant Surgeries

Last year brought a significant milestone in cutting-edge medicine when former firefighter Patrick Hardison received the most extensive face transplant surgery ever performed. Hardison’s operation rounded out nearly a decade since the first face transplant was done in 2005, a period during which a scientific feat that once seemed to belong to the realm of science fiction became possible and moved closer to the mainstream. Not only were technical limitations transcended, but initial moral objections were also overcome. Here is a look at the evolution of this groundbreaking procedure—and the people whose lives were changed by it.

1. THE GIRL WHO GOT HER OWN FACE BACK // 1994

In 1994, 9-year-old Sandeep Kaur was working in a field in India when one of her pigtails was caught in a threshing machine. The machine’s gears pulled in the girl’s hair and peeled her face off in two pieces. Her family brought her to the nearest hospital, which was three hours away. Determining that skin grafts would not work, the doctors made history by performing what was essentially the first face transplant surgery. Technically, though, since it was the victim’s own face that was being replaced, this early operation counts as a face "re-plant" rather than a transplant.

2. THE WOMAN WHO GOT HER MOUTH AND NOSE REPLACED // 2005

Isabelle Dinoire’s partial face transplant made headlines not only for the pioneering science it involved, but for the circumstances surrounding it: Dinoire, apparently in the midst of some emotional distress, had taken some sleeping pills and awoke to discover that her dog had chewed off her lips and nose while she was unconscious.

In November 2005, doctors Bernard Devauchelle and Jean-Michel Dubernard—who led the French team that had done the first-ever modern hand transplant in 1998—performed the world’s first partial face transplant, grafting a triangle of tissue from a brain-dead woman’s mouth and nose onto Dinoire. Dinoire was able to eat and speak within a day and reported satisfaction with the results 18 months later. However, she suffered a series of tissue rejection episodes during that time, pointing to the need for transplant recipients to take immunosuppressant drugs for their entire lives.

3. THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM WHO HAD 80 PERCENT OF HER FACE RECONSTRUCTED // 2008

In 2008, Connie Culp became the first person to receive a partial face transplant in the United States. Culp’s husband had shot her in the face during a domestic dispute, destroying her mouth, nose, cheeks, an eye, and a section of bone and teeth in the center of her face. Her operation was performed at the Cleveland Clinic, the first American clinic to approve the procedure. The extensive, 22-hour operation, involving 80 percent of Culp’s face, required removal of previous makeshift construction of her jaw structure and transplantation of bone, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, and skin to reconstruct the midsection of her face.

4. THE FARMER WHO UNDERWENT 10 ATTEMPTS TO REBUILD HIS FACE // 2010

In 2010, a Spanish farmer who had been horribly disfigured in a gun accident, identified only as Oscar, became the recipient of the world’s first full-face transplant at a Barcelona hospital. Nine early attempts to rebuild Oscar’s face had failed, making him a candidate for the experimental procedure. The 24-hour operation required a team of 30 surgeons, anesthetists, and nurses to replace Oscar’s facial muscles, nose, lips, upper jaw, teeth, cheekbones, palate, tear ducts, and eyelids. Oscar’s surgery was followed just a few months later by the world’s second full face transplant in France.

5. THE BURN VICTIM WHO WAS ABLE TO SPEAK AND SMELL AGAIN  // 2011

Dallas Wiens says he remembers nothing of the November 2008 accident when, while on a cherry picker, his head hit a high-voltage wire, sending electricity coursing through his body and severely burning him from head to toe. The incident blinded him and obliterated his facial features. Improbably, Wiens survived the accident and began to make a recovery, but it was a 2011 full face transplant operation that would return him to life. The operation, carried out at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, replaced the entirety of his face with that of a donor and returned his ability to speak and smell (though surgeons were not able to bring back his eyesight).

Wiens’s surgery was followed by full face transplants in the United States on Mitch Hunter later in 2011 and a very extensive operation on Richard Lee Norris in 2012.

6. THE CHIMP ATTACK SURVIVOR WHO RECEIVED A NEW FACE—AND HANDS // 2011

While not as much of a milestone in terms of face transplant science, Charla Nash’s story is notable for the extremely bizarre circumstances surrounding it. In 2009, Nash drove to the Connecticut home of her friend and employer Sandra Herold to help her corral her pet chimpanzee Travis, who had gotten out of control that day. Upon her arrival, Travis, a full-grown, 200-pound male, viciously attacked Nash, ripping off her face and hands.

After several earlier surgeries, Nash eventually received face and hand transplants in May 2011 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Both transplants were initially successful, but the hand transplants eventually had to be removed after Nash developed an infection. Nash continues to recover and it is hoped that her progress will inform future operations on veterans returning from war.

7. THE MAN WHO GOT A NEW FACE IN JUST THREE WEEKS // 2013

The first of two face transplants performed in Poland is remarkable mainly because of the extremely short time period within which it was carried out. A male patient, identified only as Grzegorz, received a full face transplant just three weeks after he was injured in a machine accident at work in 2013, losing his nose, upper jaw, and cheeks. The delicate nature of face transplant surgeries usually necessitates months or even years of preparation, making this particular operation the fastest ever performed. Doctors deemed the speed necessary because the accident had left an area of the brain exposed to infection.

8. THE FIREFIGHTER WHO RECEIVED THE BIKE MESSENGER'S FACE // 2015

In 2001, volunteer firefighter Patrick Hardison rushed into a burning home in Senatobia, Mississippi, to rescue a woman he thought was inside. The roof collapsed, knocking his helmet from his head, melting his mask, and searing his skin. The accident left Hardison without ears, nose, lips, or eyelid tissue and with virtually no normal skin left on his entire face and neck. Over 70 surgeries and grafts had left him a patchwork of scars and in constant pain, with limited vision due to lack of functioning eyelids.

In August 2015, surgeon Eduardo Rodriguez performed the most extensive ever face transplant on Hardison at NYU Langone Medical Center, using donated tissue from David Rodebaugh, a Brooklyn bike enthusiast who died following a bike accident. The transplant extends from the back of Hardison’s skull, over the top of his head, and down to his collarbones, and includes eyelids and both ears.

CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR THE PROCEDURE

The relative success of these operations has dispelled many, but not all, of critics’ fears. When face transplants were first proposed, some doubted the transplants would have feeling and functionality, but patients have regained their senses of smell, taste, and touch. Nonetheless, the delicate procedure, requiring years of training, microsurgery techniques, and large teams of specialists, is still in its early stages, and there is much room for improvement. Each face transplant surgery performed so far has followed a slightly different protocol, and the technology is in need of standardization. Surgeons are exploring new ways to match donor and recipient anatomy and improve alignment using CT scans and 3-D printed replicas of the anatomy involved in order to improve planning and speed up the process. The surgeries, too, carry a steep price tag—about $300,000 on average—and American health insurance plans do not cover it, a situation many hope will change.

Then there is the ongoing moral debate over the process. Initial objections revolved around sheer revulsion at the concept and identity-based misgivings. But while some recipients have expressed feelings of responsibility toward the donor’s legacy, few have reported identity crises about wearing a donated face. The current moral debate largely concerns the immunosuppressant drugs that patients must take in order to avoid rejection of the foreign tissue. Such drugs can negatively affect health, increasing risk of cancer, diabetes, and other ailments. Critics argue that the procedure, while life changing, is not life saving, and that it is essentially putting otherwise healthy people at risk of death. 

Finally, while the public may be warming up to face transplants, scientific advances will undoubtedly open new cans of morally questionable worms. Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero has declared that he will perform the first full head transplant in 2017. Most neuroscientists are highly skeptical that's possible, but the future undoubtedly holds stranger things yet. 

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10 Fun Facts About Spice World
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

In 1996, the Spice Girls took the world by storm when they released the song “Wannabe” from their debut album, Spice. Their mantra of “Girl Power” inspired a generation of young women to “Spice Up Your Life.” After Spice sold 31 million copies worldwide, the inevitable next step was the Girls starring on the big screen. So 20 years ago, on January 23, 1998, Columbia Pictures unleashed Spice World on American moviegoers.

In their film debut, the Girls—Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), and Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice)—played comical versions of themselves. The plot revolved around them trying to perform their biggest show yet, at London's Royal Albert Hall, while a tabloid newspaper reporter spied on them. And their best friend went into labor. And Ginger Spice kissed an alien.

Director Bob Spiers recruited several British luminaries to cameo, with Roger Moore, Bob Hoskins, Elvis Costello, Jennifer Saunders, and Elton John among those who appeared in the film. The Spice Girls were so popular that Prince Charles and his sons, Princes William and Harry, attended the Spice World premiere.

The movie, budgeted at $25 million, grossed a robust $100 million worldwide, despite Roger Ebert giving it a half-star rating and writing that the Girls were “so detached they can’t even successfully lip-synch their own songs.”

Spice World was nominated for seven Razzies, and won one: Worst Actress, an honor shared by all five Girls. In a 2007 UK poll, it was voted the worst film ever made. But over the years the film has endured. Esquire suggested it was better than The Beatles’s A Hard’s Day Night, and the podcast How Did This Get Made? spent more than an hour debating the film’s ridiculous plot.

Though the best-selling girl group of all time disbanded in 2000, Spice World remains a relic of Spice Mania. On its 20th anniversary, here are 10 fun facts about the film.

1. IT TOOK ONLY A YEAR FROM THE IDEA TO THE FINISHED FILM.

Prince Charles and Prince Harry pose with Spice Girls Victoria Beckham Mel C
WALTER DHLADHLA, AFP, Getty Images

Barnaby Thompson, one of the film’s producers, started a production company with Annie Lennox’s husband at the time, Uri Fruchtmann. Lennox and the Girls shared the same manager, Simon Fuller. Over lunch, Fuller, Fruchtmann, Thompson, and Fuller’s brother Kim decided they’d make the movie. "We finished it within a year of that lunch," Thompson told The Telegraph. "That lunch was on November 1, 1996 and we delivered the film exactly a year later, November 1, 1997."

2. THE GIRLS STOPPED TRAFFIC IN FRANCE.

By May 1997, the Girls had four number-one singles in the UK, and were one of the most popular music groups in the world. To create anticipation for Spice World, the producers took the women to the Cannes Film Festival, even though the film hadn’t been shot yet. "We put out a photo call notice," publicist Dennis Davidson said. "The traffic on the Croisette came to a standstill, there was a screaming crowd, people hanging out of the windows, it was totally insane." An estimated 5000 to 10,000 people showed up to see the pop stars. The film shot around London between June and August of 1997.

3. RICHARD E. GRANT’S DAUGHTER FORCED HIM TO DO THE MOVIE.

Richard E. Grant attends 'Their Finest' after party during the 60th BFI London Film Festival at on October 13, 2016.
John Phillips, Getty Images for BFI

Richard E. Grant’s 9-year-old daughter was a fan of the Spice Girls and when he was offered the part of the Girls’ manager, Clifford, she told him he had to do it, despite his concerns about “my acting credibility.” “And she’d say, ‘No, no, you have to. You have to because I want to meet them,’” Grant told Vulture in 2014. “So I did, and she was so thrilled. I had school playground credibility for about two semesters and then of course you dip into the other side when they go, ‘No, I was never a Spice Girls fan!’ Now that generation has all come back around again going, ‘Yeah, we love the Spice Girls!’”

4. SHAKESPEARE HELPED CAST ALAN CUMMING.

Alan Cumming played a less-than-Shakespearean role in the movie as a paparazzo-like guy named Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth. Ginger Spice was the one who suggested him to the casting department. “I remember seeing Alan Cumming performing as Hamlet [at the Donmar Warehouse],” she told The Telegraph. “When it came to Spice World, however many years later, it came to casting and we were going through pictures and I was like, ‘Let’s pick him, I saw him in Hamlet.’ It was brilliant to have that caliber of actors to be in our funny movie.”

5. YOU CAN VISIT THE SPICE BUS.

The Spice Girls arrive atop a double decker bus for a screening of their new movie 'Spice World' in New York.
HENNY RAY ABRAMS, AFP, Getty Images

The 1978 British Leyland Bristol VRTSL3 double decker bus, covered with the Union Jack on the outside and a swing on the inside, made its debut in the movie. Though a bomb destroyed it at the end of the movie, in real life it was saved. However, after filming ended the bus fell into disrepair, until the Island Harbour Marina, located on the Isle of Wight, purchased the beauty and restored it to its original state. They put it on permanent display in July 2014. The only thing the bus is missing is Meat Loaf driving it.

6. WITHNAIL AND I CONVINCED ELVIS COSTELLO TO MAKE A CAMEO.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, Elvis Costello said he loved Richard E. Grant’s film Withnail and I. “You know, I thought, ‘If I go to IMDb, I’m only a couple of clicks away from Withnail!,’” he said. Costello, who plays a barman in the movie, said he found his role to be “ironic.” “I’d only quit drinking a couple of years before, so I think the idea of being a barman was sort of ironic in my mind.”

7. THE PRODUCTION MADE SURE THE GIRLS DIDN’T READ THE SCRIPT.

Kim Fuller wrote the script (with additional writing from Jamie Curtis), which was originally titled Five. He knew the Girls might not like the script, or even read it. He gathered the ladies in a hotel in London. “I went in and said, ‘Look, turn your phones off, this is serious. I’m going to read you the story,’” he said.

They liked the story, and Ginger Spice contributed script ideas, even when she was in Bali. “I was spending hours on the phone trying to get it all sorted out and make sure that it was right,” she said. “By the time that we started, it was almost perfect.”

8. BUT THEY DIDN’T STICK TO THE SCRIPT.

Fuller said he gave them daily script pages and then they rehearsed it. “You needed to catch them at the right moment, when the energy is there,” Fuller said. “They’re not going to do 20 takes of one line, you know, so you had to think quickly on your feet.” In the Spice World documentary, Mel B confessed that she and the Girls interpreted the script. “We contributed our own little sparkle on top of it,” she said. “There were some times when we’d say the lines wrong just to make us laugh,” Baby Spice added. But those improvisations caused the script supervisor to almost quit.

"The script lady went beserk and nearly resigned because we kept changing everything," Fuller told The Telegraph. "There were a lot of flowers and we consoled her for a while and everything was fine after that."

9. THE GIRLS RECORDED AN ALBUM WHILE FILMING.

Their first album was such a massive hit that they needed to record their sophomore album to keep up the momentum. In order to fit in filming the movie and recording Spiceworld (one word), they had a mobile studio on set. They ended up writing some of the album’s—and movie’s—songs during production.

“It was quite good doing the album at the same time as the film because we were always hyperactive after a day on set and that meant we could go in the mobile studio and vibe off each other,” Posh told The Telegraph. They managed to film during the day and record at night. Virgin Records released the album on November 3, 1997, and most of Spiceworld’s songs made it into the movie, which meant there was an unofficial soundtrack.

10. MEL C LOVES THE MOVIE.

Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice) at the premiere of 'Spice World'
Brenda Chase, Getty Images

Mel C told The Telegraph that the film was difficult for her to watch, but when her daughter and friends wanted to watch it at a birthday party, Mel changed her mind. “I sat down with them and I actually really enjoyed it,” she said. “I laughed out loud. It brought back so many memories, and I think enough time has passed for me to be able to watch myself. You know in a way, it is brilliant. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, very silly. And the thing that I really realized was there was so much of us in it. It was very, very real.”

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Here's The Full List of 2018 Oscar Nominations
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

There are only two things that can get Hollywood’s biggest stars out of bed at 5 a.m.: an early call time or Academy Award nominations. The nominees for the 90th annual Oscars were announced on Tuesday morning, and represented a great year in movies.

Guillermo del Toro’s merman-meets-woman love story The Shape of Water leads this year’s nominees with a total of 13 nominations, followed by Martin McDonagh’s divisive Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which received nine nominations.

Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig both made some Oscar history with their nominations for Best Director: Peele is the fifth black director to compete for the statuette (joining John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, and Barry Jenkins—none of whom have won the award) while Gerwig is the fifth woman to be nominated for the prize (in 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female Best Director winner with The Hurt Locker).

The Academy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for a second time, and will air on March 4, 2018. Which movies will you be rooting for on Oscar night?

BEST PICTURE

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

LEAD ACTOR

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

LEAD ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

DIRECTOR

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

ANIMATED FEATURE

The Boss Baby, Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco, Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand, Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent, Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman

ANIMATED SHORT

Dear Basketball, Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
Garden Party, Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
Lou, Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
Negative Space, Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
Revolting Rhymes, Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Faces Places, JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
Icarus, Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
Last Men in Aleppo, Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
Strong Island, Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Edith+Eddie, Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel
Heroin(e), Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
Knife Skills, Thomas Lennon
Traffic Stop, Kate Davis, David Heilbroner

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

DeKalb Elementary, Reed Van Dyk
The Eleven O’Clock, Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
My Nephew Emmett, Kevin Wilson, Jr.
The Silent Child, Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
Watu Wote/All of Us, Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

FILM EDITING

Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Dunkirk, Lee Smith
I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory

SOUND EDITING

Baby Driver, Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood

SOUND MIXING

Baby Driver, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
Blade Runner 2049, Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water, Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau

ORIGINAL SCORE

Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell

ORIGINAL SONG

"Mighty River" from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
"Mystery of Love" from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
"Remember Me" from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
"Stand Up for Something" from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
"This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

MAKEUP AND HAIR

Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria and Abdul, Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
Wonder, Arjen Tuiten

COSTUME DESIGN

Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira
Victoria and Abdul, Consolata Boyle

VISUAL EFFECTS

Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi,  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlon
War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

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