By Liz Kowalczyk and Kay Lazar
Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeons last week performed the first full face transplant in the United States, attaching a donor’s face to a young Texas man who suffered severe burns in a horrific electrical accident in 2008, the hospital said recently.
Dallas Wiens, 25, lost all of his features except for a small portion of his chin when a cherry-picker he was working on maneuvered into a live wire.
In a statement released recently, the hospital said that a team of more than 30 surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and residents worked for more than 15 hours to replace Wiens’ facial area, "including the nose, lips, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and the nerves that power them and provide sensation." The transplant extended from the mid-scalp to his neck.
"There were no complications. He’s doing great, and he’s right on the mark with expected progress," said Bohdan Pomahac, MD, a plastic surgeon who led the transplant team.
At a news conference, Pomahac noted, "When I saw Dallas for the first time I was worried there may not be much we can do. The injury was so extensive."
Wiens had no nose and lips, and had been left blind. Pomahac was concerned Wiens would not have enough nerves left to attach to the nerves and muscles in the donor face, but that turned out not to be the case.