'The man with three faces': What is neurofibromatosis type one?

Meet the remarkable Jérôme Hamon, or as French media call him, 'the man with three faces'.


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PARIS — French man Jérôme Hamon has become the world's first patient to undergo two face transplants. He suffers from neurofibromatosis type 1.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Neurofibromatosis 1, or NF1, is a genetic condition that causes tumors to form along nervous tissue. These tumors are typically benign, but in some cases can become malignant and cancerous.

Indicators of the condition include six or more flat, light-brown skin spots, small bumps on the iris, and bumps under the skin. The Mayo Clinic says signs typically appear around the age of 10. Other symptoms of NF1 are bone deformities, optic nerve tumors, affected individuals being below average height and perhaps having learning disabilities.

According to the BBC, Hamon's NF1 causes severe tumors to form around his face.
Hamon underwent his first face transplant in 2010 but had to go under the knife again in 2017 after medication for a cold caused his body to reject the transplant. That was removed last November, leaving Hamon unable to speak, hear or see for several months.

Hamon remained like that in a Paris hospital until January when he received a second facial transplant, according to the BBC. French media have called him the "man with three faces". Despite all he's been through, he remains upbeat, telling French TV, "I'm 43 and the donor was 22, so I'm 22 again."

Information from the Britain's National Health Service says NF1 typically affects one in 3,000 people. Worldwide it affects 3 million people.

A 2014 study by the Washington University in St. Louis found members of both sexes have almost equal chances of developing the condition, but it affects both differently.
Females are at more risk for brain tumors and vision, while males may suffer more from learning disabilities.

There's no cure for NF1, but treatment of the condition can involve pain medication, monitoring, and for cancerous tumors, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery is used on both cancerous and noncancerous tumors.
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