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Dallas Wiens
May 9, 2011 8:18 PM   Subscribe

Man Receives 1st US face transplant. - Dallas Wiens, whose face was burnt off after his head hit a power line in 2008, appeared in public for the first time since the surgery on Monday.
posted by sgt.serenity (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Be warned: the second link is rather graphic.
posted by Nomyte at 8:27 PM on May 9, 2011


Now you tell me.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:30 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "before" pictures of this poor guy are, with no exaggeration at all, among the most startling things I've ever seen.

Amazing and wonderful what they were able to do for him. Science: it works, bitches.
posted by eugenen at 8:33 PM on May 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


When I die, feel free to donate all my organs -- but not my face. The face goes down with the ship.
posted by hermitosis at 8:38 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw this on the CBC this morning. Amazing to see such a successful transplant! I'm very glad for the dude.

that being said, my first reaction was definitely "oh crap, they made a face for the pale man"
posted by sarastro at 8:57 PM on May 9, 2011


hermitosis... good for you, make sure that you've indicated that on whatever document will make it happen, and make sure those that will be there afterwards will honor it.

Before my son died, he and I had that conversation, which was amazing given that he was only 20 and was in good health, there was really no reason for us to have discussed how he felt about organ donation, but, it happened. I knew his wishes, and when I was asked i gave permission for the hospital to honor what he wanted, it was easy to say yes because I knew his desires.

Afterwards, there were a couple of communications (hard to remember, that was 21 years ago now), that told us that good had been done.... somewhere out there there are people whose lives are better because of his compassion, and, that is a good thing...

Folks, fill out the organ donor information on your driver's license, or however it happens where you live.... someone will have a life because of it.
posted by HuronBob at 8:57 PM on May 9, 2011 [39 favorites]


...something something John Travolta.

His pre-transplant face was actually surprisingly un-gross. Weird, yes, but not gross. It's probably OK to click unless you're really, really squeamish.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:17 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think everyone who posts an 'askme' about how terrible their life is or how intractable the problem is they're facing should read about this guy first then go out and stroll in the sunshine for a while. Plastic surgery was invented to rebuild the faces of RAF pilots burned during World War 2 and, forgetting all the ridiculous celebrity crap about it these days, it's good to know that its original purpose hasn't been forgotten.
posted by joannemullen at 9:21 PM on May 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


That's just incredible.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:30 PM on May 9, 2011


Holy crap. I thought you were hyperbolising about that 'face burnt off' bit. That's amazing.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:38 PM on May 9, 2011


I see I had the same thought as joannemullen when seeing this post- here's the FPP on the RAF pilots.

"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"
Man, every morning for the past week I've been breathing in deep the second I leave the house because spring is finally here... it's good to know he'll be doing the same thing this spring.
posted by variella at 9:43 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Plastic surgery was invented to rebuild the faces of RAF pilots burned during World War 2 and, forgetting all the ridiculous celebrity crap about it these days, it's good to know that its original purpose hasn't been forgotten."

No, Harold Gillies is considered the father of plastic surgery. He did his pioneering work during and after World War I to heal or at least render presentable the shattered faces of British & Canadian combat veterans. Dealing with a task no physician had ever before encountered (the "problem" was that soldiers were surviving their grievous injuries whereas previously they would have died), he invented the technique for the first skin grafts, something he termed the tubed pedicle. His official archive is here.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:55 PM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


An incredible surgery indeed, quite fascinating what they've done.

I really can't stand the production of it as a news piece, however. Their effort to appeal to my heart with the reunion of his daughter was laughable, not because of the reunion but because of poor production.
posted by masters2010 at 10:56 PM on May 9, 2011


This is an amazing story! (Using it as an excuse to scold random people on AskMe because their problems aren't bad enough for you, though, seems kind of... unnecessary?)

I wonder how those who were close to the donor feel. There must be something good about knowing somebody they loved has been able, in death, to do such an important thing for another person - and for humanity, really. But I can't imagine what it would be like to know a stranger was walking around wearing my father's face. And not just one that looked like his, but his very flesh. It must be very strange.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:19 PM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Two or three cars, from what I have read about face transplants before, the "new" face doesn't look similar to the donating patient's face. That's because bone structure affects how your face looks.
posted by acoutu at 11:21 PM on May 9, 2011


I am sure I will never be able to fully imagine how Mr Wiens felt when he heard his daughter say:
'Daddy you're so handsome'. - Daily Mail article on the story.
posted by therubettes at 1:40 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


wow. this is making me well up. good luck to the guy.

"Science: it works, bitches."
posted by eugenen

fucking damn right. suck it, creationists.
posted by marienbad at 2:18 AM on May 10, 2011


I think everyone who posts an 'askme' about how terrible their life is or how intractable the problem is they're facing should read about this guy first then go out and stroll in the sunshine for a while.

Let's just close down AskMe and leave a copy of that on the page. Have you considered becoming a therapist?

posted by 6550 at 2:21 AM on May 10, 2011


I've been confused about the smelling bit since I heard this on the news yesterday. Can anyone explain that? Maybe I just don't understand how the sense of smell works. How were they able to give him back a sense of smell?

What about nerve reattachment? Has that gotten a lot better lately or something?
posted by backseatpilot at 5:24 AM on May 10, 2011


backseatpilot: How were they able to give him back a sense of smell?

What about nerve reattachment? Has that gotten a lot better lately or something?


It looks like in the "before" pictures, he doesn't even have nostrils. So perhaps the smelling is just a function of being able to sniff again?

And the article says
He has feeling in his left cheek. As more donated nerves meld with his own, he will be able to smile.
so maybe this will get better with time? I just don't know how nerve reattachment works, it seems like magic to me. I guess this whole process seems magical.
posted by aaronbeekay at 5:32 AM on May 10, 2011


I know this is awful, but all I can think of when I see that video is Edgar from Men In Black.
posted by crunchland at 5:52 AM on May 10, 2011


My friend Wilbur said:
So I just saw a news story about the guy who got the full face transplant, and the reporter said the face was "donated anonymously". I wanna know: how the f**k does someone donate a face anonymously!? I mean if you see somebody walking around without a face afterwards, or you look at the guy and say "hey! you kinda look like..." I'd think it would be pretty easy to put two and two together, right?
Of course, we know it doesn't work that way...
posted by exogenous at 6:33 AM on May 10, 2011


Plastic surgery was invented to rebuild the faces of RAF pilots burned during World War 2. . .

No, Harold Gillies is considered the father of plastic surgery. . . during and after World War I . . .the first skin grafts, something he termed the tubed pedicle.


Well then, you should know about Gasparo Tagliacozzi (1546-99), who perfected the 'Italian Method' of rhinoplasty, by grafting the patient's living bicep to his face (scroll down one page to see the classic illustration).

Tagliacozzi was inspired by Arabic translations of the work of the 8th C. BCE Indian surgeon, Sushurata, called the 'Father of Surgery'. Read him. It's facinating to learn just how much was known that long ago. They had just about everything but anesthesia, imaging, and germ theory.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, British surgeons made pilgrimages to India, specifically to learn the 'Indian Method'.
posted by Herodios at 8:01 AM on May 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm working down the hall from some academic facial plastics people right now, and with their help, and after talking to one of the members of the team of surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic who did the first near-total face transplant in the US, I wrote a short story which will be in the January 2012 issue of Pank Magazine about a facial allotransplant. So this is a topic I've given a lot of thought to and researched in depth. I'm really pleased to hear that they've now managed a total face transplant. It's going to be such a boon for the people who have devastating injuries to their faces, but it's also really difficult psychologically too. I don't have much patient contact (I'm an admin) but I see a lot of people who have had partial facial reconstructions after having had their jaw or nose or whathaveyou rebuilt after (usually cancer-related*) surgeries. It's absolutely amazing to me what surgeons are able to do now.

*My take-away from the cancer patients has been, essentially, don't smoke or chew tobacco, and make sure you get the HPV vaccine if you can.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:07 AM on May 10, 2011


This is a wonderful, wonderful thing. If I knew that my tissue could heal another like this, I'd donate the whole shebang. Sadly, I've been told that having had hepatitis my body is no longer desirable, for any purpose (save my own, as it were).

After reading this story, I ran outside, closed my eyes and focused on the sensation of sun and soft wind on my face; I thought, I am lucky, so very lucky.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:43 AM on May 10, 2011


Manipulative news production or not, I still got misty watching him with his daughter. This is simply amazing. Science definitely works, bitches.

Well then, you should know about Gasparo Tagliacozzi (1546-99), who perfected the 'Italian Method' of rhinoplasty, by grafting the patient's living bicep to his face

Okay, I clicked on the link, saw the picture, and I still don't know what sewing your arm muscle to your nose is supposed to accomplish. Do I flunk out of sixteenth-century medical school?
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:45 AM on May 10, 2011


@StrangerInterlude, see Italian Method.
posted by acoutu at 11:20 AM on May 10, 2011


I still don't know what sewing your arm muscle to your nose is supposed to accomplish

I wouldn't want to stand in the way of your doing your own googling if you are really interested, but in a nutshell, the Indian method -- grafting tissue from the forehead -- leaves quite a mark. It also may not be the best donor site. The only advantage is that it is nearby.

Tagliacozzi's procedure offers good circulation, access to lots of tissue, can more easily be repeated (many of these operations failed), and adds no further facial disfigurement.

Surgeons of the day also offered a similar procedure entailing a donor. Here's a fictional tale of such a case by Edmond About (1828 – 1885), "Les Nez d'un Notaire" ("The Notary's Nose" (translated from French (if you want it translated from THE French, you're on your own.)))
posted by Herodios at 12:26 PM on May 10, 2011


It's not the first US face transplant, it's the first full US face transplant. I made a post about Connie Culp a while back who was the recipient of the first US face transplant.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:48 PM on May 10, 2011


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