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Dallas Wiens' face before and after the procedure   (Source:
Dallas Wiens obtains facial structures, sensation and movement through the 15-hour procedure

A Texas man who endured severe electrical burns has received the first full face transplant in the United States, and is ready to go home to his family after months of recovery. 

Dallas Wiens, 26, was injured in November 2008 while volunteering at his church. While painting the church, his head came too close to the high-voltage power line above, and electrical burns caused him to lose nearly his entire face. He was in a medically induced coma for 90 days following the accident, where doctors performed several surgeries on Wiens. 

Wiens survived the burns and was able to leave the intensive care unit, but needed to regularly seek treatment from Dr. Jeffrey Janis of Parkland Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. 

Janis then contacted Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, who is the Burn Unit director at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts. Pomahac has previous experience with patients like Wiens, having performed a partial face transplant in the past. But never before had he performed a full face transplant.  

In fact, a full face transplant had never been accomplished in the United States at that point. The closest example would be Connie Culp from Ohio, who received a transplant of more than 80 percent of her face in December 2008 after her husband shot her in 2004. In 2005, the first partial face transplant occurred in France, and in 2010, a patient referred to as "Oscar" received the first full face transplant ever in Spain. 

In mid-March, Wiens underwent a 15-hour full face transplant, marking the first ever full face transplant in the U.S. He received a donor nasal structure, nose, lips, forehead and facial skin as well as muscles and nerves for movement and feeling. His face did not look the same as it once did, and it did not resemble the donor either due to the shape of Wiens' skull and the addition of skin, fat and muscle, but Wiens was happy to have facial features and certain senses again.  

"When I woke up, and I was able to feel I had features again -- eyes and a nose and a mouth -- I even said out loud that this could not be medically possible," said Wiens. "But here I am today." 

Right now, Wiens can feel pressure on his face. As time goes by, he will gradually be able to start moving his lips and face and feel light on his facial skin. Janis notes that this may take about six to nine months. Wiens is also able to speak a little bit, but this will improve over time as well. 

More good news for Wiens is that his facial skin is capable of growing facial hair. Before the electrical burns, Wiens' signature look included a goatee. So even though his face does look different, he can feel more at home in his new skin with the goatee he's always had. 

But to Wiens, the most important outcome of this procedure was to regain feeling in his face so that he could feel his 4-year-old daughter, Scarlette, kiss him again. Scarlette was Wiens' main motivation while undergoing such a pioneering surgical procedure, and after she saw him with the new face, she confirmed for Wiens that the lengthy process was worth it by telling him he was handsome.

For the time being, the only sense Wiens cannot obtain is sight due to the lack of technology. But Pomahac noted that this could change in the future and that he expects a large amount of growth in this area of the medical field. In fact, there is another patient waiting to undergo the same procedure as Wiens via a Department of Defense grant, which paid for Wiens' surgery. 

While Wiens now has to take medication for the rest of his life and still see Pomahac and Janis for follow-ups, he is glad to have had the opportunity to change his life, and is now ready to go back to Texas to spend time with his daughter and continue his education.

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How could God let that happen
By StraightCashHomey on 5/10/2011 12:43:14 PM , Rating: -1
God... where were you on that one?

That's awesome that he got that done, though. It's incredible what science can do.

RE: How could God let that happen
By Bioniccrackmonk on 5/10/2011 1:08:51 PM , Rating: 3
It's called freewill. Do you know how close you have to be to be to have something like this happen?

Although I would never wish anything like this upon anyone, at what point can you throw your hands up in the air and say "I can't believe you actually did that"?

Common sense is not as common as it used to be.

RE: How could God let that happen
By jbartabas on 5/10/2011 1:23:03 PM , Rating: 2
How close?

RE: How could God let that happen
By paydirt on 5/10/11, Rating: -1
RE: How could God let that happen
By Aloonatic on 5/10/2011 5:30:28 PM , Rating: 5
Quite right. And I should know, I created God and told him to do just that.

I don't intend to prove this, just have faith my friend :o)

RE: How could God let that happen
By abscode on 5/11/2011 2:56:01 PM , Rating: 3
How can I send you my money?

By PaterPelligrino on 5/10/2011 9:34:53 PM , Rating: 3
paydirt writes:

As far as I'm concerned, God created the Universe & the laws of science.....I am amazed and thankful to God for what we have

I've got a Bible-thumping in-law who we encounter at some holiday dinner every few years. In spite of the fact that he knows he's the only believer at the table, he insists of displaying his piety with endless, elaborate, high-decibel demonstrations of gratitude to god for the grub.

The last time this happened, as soon as he had finished, a nephew jumped in with, "Lord, seeing that you're getting credit for the turkey, I think it only fair that you also take responsibility for some of your other creations like polio, cholera, AIDS, smallpox, hepatitis, malaria, and tuberculosis, which kill tens of millions of innocent people each year. I'll do the parasites next time." The Bible guy refused to eat with us and stormed out. The nephew was roundly congratulated.

RE: How could God let that happen
By Breathless on 5/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: How could God let that happen
By Breathless on 5/10/2011 4:47:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to add that who knows how many people will benefit as a direct result of this mans "mishap"? Thousands of people who are similarly disfigured may now have hope of a transplant. More doctors will pursue and perform this type radical surgical procedure. Many advances may occur, all from this (and similar misfortunes from other people). The list goes on and on. If this seems cruel to you, then you should take a step back. Almost nothing good comes without sacrifice of some sort.

Though we often aren't, God is very familiar with sacrifice of one for a greater good. Ask His Son.

RE: How could God let that happen
By StraightCashHomey on 5/11/2011 9:25:34 AM , Rating: 2
These medical advances could have happened without someone's face getting fried by electric current, or at least, a person that wasn't religious.

And yeah, one hell of a sacrifice there, J.C. You knew you were going to "come back to life", so you decided to die for all of our sins. Whoooooah. So, God was like "sweet, J.C. got pwned... I guess I'll forgive everyone. Nothing like nailing a human to a crucifix to make me feel better about humanity's sins."

RE: How could God let that happen
By ekv on 5/12/2011 5:12:00 PM , Rating: 1
You knew you were going to "come back to life"
You're totally missing the point. The accident was an absolute tragedy. Things happen. There are drunk drivers out there. Or somebody dives into shallow water. But then for this amazing medical procedure to help this guy get on with his life ... some people like to express thanks, or put another way, thanksgiving. And you can't even respect that. Sad.

As far as the nature of J.C.'s sacrifice. Try living in solitary confinement for, say, 2-3 days. But that's no quite it. Try going to a place where people are the very antithesis of you -- a revival meeting with lots of families in attendance, lots of food and lots of fun. I'm curious, do you even care that your understanding here falls rather short?

By Skywalker123 on 5/14/2011 3:57:07 PM , Rating: 2
Ask his Son? Which one? Hercules drops by every friday to pump some iron and drink a few, I guess I'll ask him. Anybody got any other questions for the son of gawd?

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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