After Face Transplant, Daughter Says He's Handsome

May 10, 2011

By Lauren Keiper

BOSTON (Reuters) May 09 - The recipient of the first facial transplant in the U.S. made his debut public appearance on Monday, saying he soon will go home to Texas to be with his young daughter and might attend college.

Dallas Wiens, 26, had most of his facial features burned off by contact with a high-voltage wire in 2008 and underwent a 15-hour procedure two months ago to replace his face.

Since the transplant, Wiens said, the most rewarding moment came when he was reunited with his preschool daughter.

"She was amazed. She actually said, 'Daddy, you're so handsome,'" Wiens said at a news conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. There, a team of more than 30 surgeons replaced his nose, lips, skin, muscles of facial animation and nerves in March.

"To me the face feels natural. It feels as if it has become my own," said Wiens, of Fort Worth, Texas.

Prior to the transplant, he could not smell, had trouble breathing and underwent more than 20 surgeries in Dallas.

When the transplant brought back his sense of smell, Wiens said the first scent he encountered was hospital lasagna.

It smelled delicious, he said.

Wearing dark sunglasses, Wiens spoke slowly but clearly. He is blind and his face droops slightly to one side, but his beard is growing back and he has a full head of hair.

In addition to his news conference, Wiens appeared Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

His disfiguring accident occurred in November 2008 when he was working as a contractor. Helping paint a church, he was riding high on a cherry picker that struck a power line.

Wiens said that once home, he might attend college.

Over the next six to nine months he will be working to regain his facial muscle function and sensation in parts of his face, doctors said.

"Every step of the way was amazing," Wiens said. "It just felt like learning how to do everything over again but in a very real, very good way."

Doctors at Brigham and Women's performed the nation's second full face transplant in April on Mitch Hunter, 30, of Indiana, who suffered a severe shock from a high voltage electrical wire following a car accident in 2001.

Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009, is on a waiting list for the surgery, the hospital said.

The world's first full face transplant was done in Spain in 2010.


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