A man who was expected to die after suffering burns across 95% of his body has been saved by skin transplants from his identical twin in a world-first operation. Engulfed in flames while handling chemicals on the job, 33-year-old Franck Dufourmantelle received the grafts from his brother Eric’s head, back and thighs. “I had a fresco-like tattoo on my arm,” he said. “But the only thing left is the word ‘life’, in English", he said. Transplants from a genetically identical twin eliminate the risk of rejection by the recipient’s body. Dufourmantelle’s accident happened in September 2016 in northern France. He underwent about a dozen operations, followed by months of hospitalisation and physical rehabilitation. Doctors had not publicly discussed the case until now.
Today Dufourmantelle is living at home with his partner, and is still receiving intensive therapy. “It doesn’t hurt any more,” he said, noting that he had recently stopped taking painkillers. With the left hand, “I can pinch things, like with a claw,” he said. His right hand – less damaged – has healed to the point where he can write with a pen. Miraculously, his face was mostly spared. Nearly half of his brother Eric’s skin was removed, and then stretched in a machine so that it would cover a larger area According to the chief sugeon .The donor is today not “covered in scars”, Maurice Mimoun, a doctor at the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris, said. “All one can see is a slight difference in the pigmentation.”
In most burn cases the skin of a deceased and unrelated donor is grafted on to the victim, even if doctors know that it will be rejected within a couple of weeks.That is usually enough time for new skin to start growing, or to be harvested from elsewhere on the patient’s body.Twin-on-twin skin transplants had been done before but never over such a large area, said Mimoun.