Boston hospital performs full face transplant
BOSTON -- A construction worker who was severely burned and badly disfigured is getting another chance at leading a normal life thanks to more than 30 doctors, nurses and staff members at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Dallas Wiens, 25, of Fort Worth, Texas, has undergone a full facial transplant - the first full transplant in the US.
“Dallas, hours said after the injury, that he now had a choice - he could choose to get bitter or he could choose to get better,” said Del Peterson, Dallas’ grandfather.
The electrical accident in November 2008 left Wiens blind and without lips, a nose or eyebrows. In Boston, doctors transplanted an entire new face, including a nose, lips, skin and muscles and nerves that animate the skin and give sensation.
Although doctors were not able to restore his vision and Wiens won’t have 100 percent sensation in his face, doctors said the surgery is a success. Doctors said Wiens is now awake, talking on a cell phone and doing great.
“On behalf of Dallas and his daughter Scarlet and our entire family, we want to thank God for walking with us through this amazing journey and to all of those who made this day possible for Dallas,” said Peterson.
It took more than 15 hours to complete the transplant.
This was the second face transplant the Boston hospital has performed; the previous one was in April 2009 -- the partial replacement of the face of a man who suffered traumatic facial injuries from a freak accident.
“I’m happy to report that Jim Maki, our first face transplant recipient, is doing great, and we’re confident that we’ll see Dallas on a similar course,” said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of the burn center.
Maki now motivates Wiens to do what he can.
“At one point we ask him, ‘Why are you subjecting yourself to all that? And his answer was, ‘I just want a cab to stop when I’m at the curb.’” said Pomahac.
Brigham and Women's Hospital said this marks a new milestone and for Wiens and his family it is the start of a new life.
“You have made this day an amazing journey and you have blessed Dallas’ life and we thank you,” said Peterson.
The surgery donor’s family wishes to remain anonymous.
“He will not look like himself, but he will not look like the donor. There is a component of soft tissues and also the bone that is Dallas’ own,” said Pomahac.
The surgery allegedly cost $300,000, but it was paid for by the Department of Defense. They believe it could help injured soldiers in the future.
The world's first face transplant, also a partial, was done in France in 2005 on a woman mauled by her dog. Doctors in Spain performed the first full face transplant last March for a farmer who was unable to breathe or eat on his own after accidentally shooting himself in the face.
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