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Face Transplant Patient Meets the Press

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Isabelle Dinoire, who received the world’s first partial face transplant, showed off her new features at a press conference in Amiens, France, on Monday.

“I now have a face like everyone else,” Dinoire, a 39-year-old divorced mother of two, said at her first public engagement since she underwent the groundbreaking surgery on Nov. 27.

Her speech was heavily slurred and difficult to understand as she explained how she was disfigured by a dog bite last year. Dinoire said she was passed out when the dog mauled her, and she didn’t immediately realize the extent of her disfigurement when she awoke, the Associated Press reports.

“When I woke up, I tried to light a cigarette, and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t hold it between my lips,” she said. “I looked at myself in the mirror, and there, horrified, I couldn’t believe what I saw – especially because it didn’t hurt. Ever since this day, my life has changed.”

Dinoire also thanked the family of the donor who gave her new lips, a chin and nose, and said that she hopes to resume a normal life. “A door to the future is opening,” she said.

On Jan. 21, Dinoire gave her first American interview since the surgery, emphasizing to PEOPLE that while she’s making progress, her recovery so far hasn’t been all roses.

According to Dinoire, “I spend almost all of my time in my hospital room. Here I have radio and television, and there is also an exercise bike in the corner of the room. I haven’t started using it yet, but that may change, I suppose.”

She is also trying to regain weight that she lost during her ordeal. “I am eating as much as I can,” she says. “I love fresh strawberries, but have also eaten omelettes, chocolate cake and all kinds of other foods,” including, she says, “the odd glass of red wine.”