ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Dallas Wiens: First Full-Face Transplant in the United States

Updated on October 11, 2013

Dallas Wiens made history in 2011 when he became the first person to receive a full face transplant in the United States. Here is his story.

Dallas Wiens at a press conference.
Dallas Wiens at a press conference. | Source

Historic Face Transplant

"Daddy, you're so handsome," the little girl beamed at Dallas Wiens. The words came tumbling out of her mouth when she saw her father for the first time after his operation.

Wiens, 25, made history in March 2011 when he became the first person to receive a full-face transplant in the United States.

Two months later, he appeared at a press conference from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. It was his first public appearance since he received a new face.

Joined by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac and Dr. Elof Eriksson, his plastic surgeons, Wiens appeared before a packed room of news reporters and photographers.

"[My face] feels natural," said the young man from Fort Worth, Texas. "Every step of the way was amazing," he told the reporters as he answered their questions about his miracle transformation.

Here's more on Dallas Wiens and his amazing story as the first American full-face transplant recipient.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, the surgeon.
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, the surgeon. | Source

A Miracle for Dallas

More than 30 doctors and nurses worked for 15 hours on Dallas Wiens' surgery. Thanks to an anonymous donor, he received a nose, lips, facial skin, muscle and nerves.

While praising Wiens for his courage and strength, Dr. Pomahac called the donor's gift "the most selfless gift one human can give another."

Richard S. Luskin, president of the New England Organ Bank, agreed. "This remarkable, anonymous gift is another example of the life-affirming power of organ and tissue donation," he said.

The donor's family, who requested anonymity, had to approve the face donation. According to Dr. Pomahac, Wiens will not look like his old self or the donor, but "probably somewhere in the middle."

The United States Department of Defense (DOD) paid for the surgery. The Boston hospital received $3.4 million in research funds for five face transplants. The military hopes that the findings from the Wiens surgery and future operations will help war veterans who are suffering from severe facial wounds.

Beauty from Ashes

A tragic accident in November 2008 was the thing that changed Wiens' life. As he painted a Fort Worth church, his head accidentally touched a high voltage power line. His electrocution caused severe burns and nearly ended his life.

Wiens lost most of his face, and the accident blinded his remaining eye. Dozens of surgeries at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas left him with a smooth, featureless face of grafted skin.

The transplant surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital gave Wiens a new face, but it was unable to restore his vision. He received a pair of acrylic eyes in September 2011. The Southlake Lions Club, a Dallas area civic organization, is raising money to acquire a service dog for Wiens.

The full-face transplant surgery went better than Dr. Pomahac expected, and the results have amazed the medical community. The feeling and function should return to Wiens' face as his body begins to regenerate nerve endings.

Dallas Wiens and his fiancée, Jamie Nash.
Dallas Wiens and his fiancée, Jamie Nash. | Source

Faith, Family, and Fiancée

After his accident, Wiens knew he had a choice: get bitter or get better. He chose the latter and moved on with his life. Wiens credits his desire for the face transplant to a desire to smile again, and to his longing to feel the kisses of his little daughter Scarlette.

His child and his faith are the things that have kept Wiens motivated throughout the ordeal. "Even though I'm in amazing hands here," he said of his surgeons, "I'm also in God's hands."

Wiens, a member of Ridglea Baptist Church in Fort Worth, addressed a conference of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) in February 2011.

"They say I'm tenacious but we know differently," he remarked. "On the very first line of my medical record it says, 'This young man is a miracle of God.' Even they cannot deny that it was God who saved my life. The doctors that I had, God put their skill to work in the right place and at the right time to keep me alive."

Nearly a dozen people across the globe have received the miracle of a full-face transplant. This diverse and blessed group of people live in the United States, France, Spain and China.

Update: Dallas Wiens and Jamie Nash were married on Saturday, March 30, 2013, in the same church where Wiens had been burned nearly five years earlier. "I am blessed beyond measure that you have chosen me, and I love you with all of my heart," the Dallas Morning News quoted Wiens as telling Nash.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts on face transplants? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your social networks.

Reference Sources

"They say I'm tenacious but we know differently." -- Dallas Wiens, on his miracle from God.
"They say I'm tenacious but we know differently." -- Dallas Wiens, on his miracle from God. | Source

© 2011 Annette R. Smith

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Dallas Wiens wed Jamie Nash on Saturday, March 30, at Ridglea Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Congratulations, Dallas and Jamie!

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      You're welcome, Kim. It's good to meet you, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading about Dallas Wiens and his amazing strength and faith.

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 

      5 years ago from uk

      Wow, it's amazing what some people go through in life. The will to survive is so strong. Thanks for this moving story.

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Yes, God's miracles and wonders never cease to amaze me. It's a pleasure to meet you, Coach Grandpa. Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • Coach Grandpa profile image

      Bill 

      5 years ago from Riverview, Florida

      Thanks for writing this HUB. Truly amazing how God works miracles through people.

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      6 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Dallas Wiens received his face transplant last March. Since then, he also received new acrylic eyes. New teeth and skin reduction surgeries are next. What an amazing miracle for Dallas -- and for his family, especially his little daughter. God is awesome!

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      7 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Yes, what a remarkable gift for Dallas Wiens. I was quite moved while researching the story. Thank you for the encouragement!

    • Cogerson profile image

      UltimateMovieRankings 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub on a great achievement...I wish him lots of luck in this process....voted up

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      7 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      When I read about this story, I thought, "What an amazing story. And what an amazing God!" Thanks for taking a moment to comment. I'll check out the video and see what's up.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      7 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      The video will not play. I get a message that it is disabled by request and to watch it on YouTube. I will, but thought you might want to know.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      7 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I had read about this gentleman however I had not seen the results. What an amazing procedure. The possibility to help people live normal lives is so touching. Thank you for writing this great Hub. Now I am off to watch the video.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)