Doctors at a Boston hospital last week performed the first full face transplant in the United States, attaching a donor face to a 25-year-old Fort Worth man whose face was severely burned when his head touched a high-voltage line three years ago.
The operation was funded under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the military’s efforts to expand research in innovative medical procedures.
In a statement Monday, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said a team of more than 30 surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents worked for about 15 hours to transplant the forehead, nose, lips, facial skin, underlying muscles “and the nerves that power them and provide sensation” from an anonymous donor to Dallas Wiens, a day laborer who was on a cherry-picker Nov. 13, 2008, when his head came in contact with a high-voltage line.
Bohdan Pomahac, the lead plastic surgeon, said the team was not able to restore Wiens’s vision. But Wiens, who has a young daughter, should be able regain up to 90 percent of normal sensation on the right side of his forehead, right cheek, most of his upper lip and his entire lower lip, Pomahac said at a news conference. Nerve damage was too great for there to be more than minimal sensation in the left check and left forehead, Pomahac said.