Boston doctors perform first full face transplant in US

Boston doctors perform first full face transplant in US

The Brigham and Women's Hospital's plastic surgery team, led by Bohdan Pomahac, performed the full face transplant for Dallas Wiens last week.

The team, led by Bohdan Pomahac, worked for over 15 hours to replace the facial area of Wiens, including the nose, lips, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and the nerves that power them and provide sensation.

"Today's tremendous news marks a new milestone in Brigham and Women's legacy in transplant surgery. 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," BWH President Betsy Nabel said in a statement here.

Wiens had lost all his facial features -- except for a small portion of his chin -- in a horrific electrical accident in 2008.

Wiens' eyesight could not be restored by the transplant.
The doctors said some nerves had been damaged to such an extent that Wiens would only have partial sensation on his left cheek and left forehead.

The 25-year old was later able to speak to his family over phone.
"There were no complications. He's (Wiens) doing great, and he's right on the mark with expected progress," Pomahac said.

The hospital did not release the name of the donor.
"This remarkable, anonymous gift is another example of the life-affirming power of organ and tissue donation," New England Organ Bank president Richard Luskin said.
"As always we are immensely grateful to the donor and the donor family for their generosity".

The cost of the operation was met by the US Department of Defense as part of research into helping severely wounded service personnel.

The Defence Department has given the hospital USD 3.4 million research grant for five transplants.

Wiens' grandfather, Del Peterson, thanked doctors for the surgery.
"You have made this day an amazing journey. And you have blessed Dallas's life and we thank you. Dallas always said after the injury that he now had a choice: he could just choose to get bitter, or choose to get better. His choice was to get better," Peterson said.

It is the second face transplant the Brigham has done since the programme was established four years ago.

In 2009, the team had performed a partial face transplant on James Maki, who severely burned most of his face after falling on an electrified rail at a subway station.