Surgeons operating
The man who underwent the first facial transplant surgery in the U.S. has regained his sense of smell. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The man who received the first full facial transplant in the United States has regained his sense of smell. Dallas Wiens, a 26-year-old native of Fort Worth, Texas, had most of his facial features singed off when he accidentally made contact with a live power line several years ago. He underwent the transplant recently, and the first noticeable benefit was that he could smell again.

First full facial transplant in U.S. ruled successful

Dallas Wiens, a 26-year-old Texan man from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, was the first recipient of a full facial transplant in the United States. He underwent the procedure in March, according to Reuters, more than two years after an accident left him disfigured. In November of 2008, Wiens was assisting in painting a church and went up in a cherry picker, a type of hydraulic lift, and came into contact with a power wire, which singed away nearly all of his facial features. He was selected for the transplant after he underwent more than two dozen surgeries in Dallas. After two months of recovery, he can speak and smell again.

Lasagna awakens the senses

The first thing that Wiens smelled after the procedure was lasagna, according to the BBC, which he said smelled “delicious.” However, the idea that he could smell again did not hit home until a nurse brought a bouquet of hibiscus flowers into his room, and it was at that point that he knew he had completely regained his sense of smell. He is able to speak, though he has to speak slowly and his enunciation has been affected by nerve damage from the accident. His face still slouches in some areas. Doctors say that the nerve damage is permanent, and he will need extensive physical therapy to further improve. Wiens will likely remain in the hospital for several more months for therapy and will only regain partial sensation in his face, according to MSNBC.

Army grant paid for procedure

The operation took place at Boston’s prestigious Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which has connections to Harvard’s medical school. More than 30 people assisted in attaching the donor tissue in an operation that lasted nearly 15 hours. The entire operation was funded by a grant from the U.S. Army. The Army awards grants in the hopes of developing procedures that could save lives or mend wounded troops, and facial transplant is a procedure still in its infancy. Only partial face transplants had been performed until March 2010, according to Wikipedia, when a Spanish man successfully received a new face after being shot. There have been only two partial face transplants in the United States, both of which were performed at the Cleveland Clinic, a highly regarded medical research hospital. The procedure for Wiens was supervised by Dr. Bodhan Pomahac, and two more people are on the waiting list for the procedure.





Wikipedia on face transplants:


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