Isabelle Dinoire, born 1967, was the first person to undergo a partial face transplant, after her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. Prior to the operation, she could barely eat or speak, but after the operation, she can do both.
Dinoire’s dog “chewed her face after she passed out from an overdose of sleeping pills.” Some reports following the initial surgery claim that her daughter said that the black Labrador cross (named Tania) was “frantically” trying to wake Dinoire after she took sleeping pills in a suicide attempt, and Dinoire wrote about her suicidal feelings in her own memoir. The hospital denied this. In a statement made on February 6, 2006, Dinoire said that “after a very upsetting week, with many personal problems, I took some pills to forget … I fainted and fell on the ground, hitting a piece of furniture.”
Dinoire’s daughter reported that the family is sure that the dog, which was ordered to be euthanized, mutilated Dinoire by accident. They believe that the damage was caused when the dog, finding Dinoire wouldn’t wake up, got more and more frantic, and began scratching and clawing her. Dinoire was “heartbroken” when Tania was forced to be euthanized and kept a picture of the Labrador by her hospital bed; she later bought another dog to aid in her recovery after surgery.
Dinoire’s injuries affected her nose, lips, chin, and cheeks. She wore a surgical mask to cover the injuries on the lower part of her face, as the upper face was not affected.
Doctors and the media debated whether the donor and/or the recipient had attempted suicide, with reports stating that the donor had hanged herself. The family of the donor told the funeral director who handled the donor’s death that the donor had an accidental death. Local French newspapers stated that Dinoire’s daughter said that the mother attempted to commit suicide. Dubernard said that the recipient did not try to kill herself. Olivier Jardé, an orthopedic surgeon from Ahrens and a member of the French National Assembly, said that both the donor and the recipient attempted suicide. The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, stated that Dinoire said via a telephone interview that she tried to commit suicide. In her 2007 memoir, Dinoire stated that the donor had killed herself, which “gave Dinoire a feeling of sisterhood” with the donor.