Face transplant recipient embraces life after surgery

Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:46am EDT
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By Judy Wiley

FORT WORTH, Texas, June 30 (Reuters Life) - Face transplant recipient Dallas Wiens has been having some allergy problems but it is a small discomfort for a man whose face was burned away in an electrical accident less than three years ago.

"I couldn't breathe through my nose - I didn't have one," Wiens told Reuters.

The 26-year-old Fort Worth man received the first full face transplant performed in the United States in March. He is now at home fielding interviews, doing pull-ups and, best of all, kissing his little daughter Scarlette.

A team of 30 doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac performed the transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, replacing Wiens' nose, lips, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and nerves.

Three months after the 15-hour surgery, Wiens' speech is slightly difficult to understand as he rattles off the details of his recovery. He has a full head of hair now, along with a goatee and mustache. He enjoys being able to shave again.

"You're going to (get) better or you're going to get bitter, and I have a 4-year-old reason why I need to get better," he said, referring to his daughter.

He is wearing sunglasses that conceal a missing left eye, and he is blind, which doesn't seem to faze him.

"Typically, and I was the same way, you would look at someone and see a defining feature, and the judgment begins," he said, dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans. "I can't do that, and I like that."   Continued...

<p>Full face transplant patient Dallas Wiens (L) is seen with his four-year old daughter Scarlette in this undated handout image. REUTERS/Courtesy of Lightchaser Photography/Handout</p>