In January 2010, we told you the story of Dallas Wiens, 25, a construction worker badly burned on the job. He was hoping to qualify for a facial transplant. Recently, he got his wish.
Wiens’ head had touched a high-voltage power line while he was standing in a cherry picker making repairs to a church window in Fort Worth, TX.
Nearly all the flesh from the crown of his head to the tip of his chin was burned off. His lipless mouth was the only remaining feature on his face. He was also blinded.
Last October, he was approved for surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where one partial face transplant had already been performed. After approval, all that was needed was a facial donor.
Just this week, doctors announced that the surgery had been performed. To protect the identity of the donor, the date of the surgery wasn’t revealed. The facial match was based on gender, race, age and blood type.
Soon after the surgery, Wiens was reported in good condition, had spoken to his family on the phone and had texted others from his hospital bed that he’s “good.”
Wiens’ chief hope is that he’ll soon be able to kiss his four-year-old daughter again. Unfortunately, the surgery will not return his eyesight.
A side note: The new federal healthcare law helped Wiens by allowing him to get insurance coverage under his father’s plan until he turns age 26 for the anti-rejection drugs he needs. After he turns 26, the drugs will be covered by Medicare.
The surgery itself was paid for by the Defense Department, which wants information to help veterans who have suffered facial deformities while serving in recent wars.
Also waiting for a face transplant at the Boston hospital is Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who was mauled by a friend’s 200-pound chimpanzee. About a year ago, we told you the story of how the police officer who shot and killed the raging animal was denied workers’ comp benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder.