BOSTON (Reuters) - A 25-year-old Texas man has received the first full face transplant done in the United States, Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital said on Monday.
More than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents worked for more than 15 hours to replace the nose, lips, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and nerves of Dallas Wiens, disfigured in an electrical accident in 2008.
“The pioneering achievement accomplished by the entire transplant team is a gift made possible by the most selfless act one human being can do for another, organ donation,” said hospital president Betsy Nable. The hospital did not release the name of the donor.
The surgery was performed last week on Wiens, who had virtually all his facial features burned off by contact with a high-voltage wire. It was the second face transplant procedure done at Brigham and Women’s, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
Wiens remains in the hospital but has woken up fully, has chatted on the phone with family and is walking, doctors said of his progress.
They expect him to be eating soon with the next major milestone being his return home to Texas. Wiens is expected to regain most of the sensation of his forehead and cheek on the right side, but less so on the left part of the cheek and forehead where damage was more severe, surgeons said.
“He is determined to get well and move on with his life and to make something of his life,” said Wiens’ grandfather Del Peterson, adding that Wiens intends to become an advocate for facial donations.
The surgical team was not able to restore his vision.
Wiens’ appearance post-surgery will not look like the donor, but will also not look like himself, doctors said.
Two additional patients are on the hospital’s waiting list for face transplant surgeries, doctors said, including Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009.
The first partial face transplant surgery conducted in the United States was performed at the Cleveland Clinic in December 2008. In that 22-hour procedure, doctors transplanted 80 percent of the face of Connie Culp, who lost most of the midsection of her face to a gunshot in 2004.
The world’s first successful partial face transplant was performed in France in 2005, according to government health records. The first full face transplant was done in Spain in 2010.
Reporting by Lauren Keiper; editing by Ros Krasny and Jerry Norton