Print 26 comment(s) - last by Skywalker123.. on May 14 at 3:57 PM

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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RE: How could God let that happen
By Breathless on 5/10/2011 4:38:56 PM , Rating: 0
The difference between God's perspective on things and yours (ours) is unimaginable (literally). While we can only see what is right in front of us, he sees the full picture. Great things happen, and terrible things happen. We are specs of dust, but there is a much bigger landscape that we can't and will never see.

The difference between this guys perspective and yours is in similar contrast. Had this happened to you, you'd curse God till you were dead in the cold, cold ground. He's thanking God for every additional breath he has under the warm, warm sun... and it ACTUALLY HAPPENED to him.

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?

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