Dallas Wiens, the Texas man who became the recipient of a full face transplant, made his first public appearance today on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Wiens, who has undergone over 20 surgeries, says he agreed to have the facial transplant for the benefit of his 3-year-old daughter, Scarlett.
“I could have lived like I was, no problem, if I did not have my daughter,” Wiens said. “But I could not bear the thought of her growing up and being asked questions, ‘Why does your daddy look different?’ And dealing with that all of her childhood.”
The 26-year-old construction worker suffered fourth-degree burns that left him, quite literally, without a face in November 2008 when his head came in contact with a high-voltage power line.
Weins has no memory of the accident.
At the time, he had been uncle and brother paint a church when, while on a boom lift, he hit a power line.
“I’m told I lost control of the lift and ended up moving directly into the power lines,” he said.
Doctors were able to transfer some skin and muscle tissue from Wiens’ back and thighs onto his skull, but he lost his eyes and they weren’t able to restore his lips or nose.
The remarkable procedure, which Wiens underwent in March of this year at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, gave him a new nose, skin, lips, muscle, and nerves from an unidentified donor. The transplant procedure lasted 15 hours.
The transplant procedure was funded by the military, which hopes the findings will help it treat soldiers with similarly severe facial wounds.
“The face feels natural,” Wiens said on Monday. “It feels as if it’s become my own.”
He told reporters the first thing he was able to smell after the surgery was hospital lasagne, saying: “You wouldn’t have imagined it would smell so delicious.”
He added that the reality that he had recovered his sense of smell struck him when a nurse brought a hibiscus flower into his room.
“The smell of life – plant life again – and to know that I could smell a rose or anything like that again, it really hit home for me,” he said.
This was not the first face transplant done in the U.S. Connie Culp of Ohio had a face transplant back in 2009 after being shot by her husband.
You can view Dallas Wiens’ remarkable story below.
- First U.S. full face transplant done in Boston (reuters.com)
- 3/22/11: Boston team performs full face transplant, a first (boston.com)