Healthcare News & Insights

Boston hospital announces first ever full face transplant

Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Boston has announced another medical milestone: The nation’s first full-face transplant.

The patient, Dallas Wiens of Fort Worth, Texas, is 25 and listed in good condition. A team of 30 doctors performed the operation which gave Wiens a new nose, lips and facial skin as well as muscles and nerves to provide the skin with sensation.

Wiens was injured in an electrical accident in November 2008, leaving him blind and without lips, a nose or eyebrows. The surgery wasn’t able to restore his eyesight, due to nerve damage.

The hospital wouldn’t release any information on the donor, or say when exactly the surgery was performed. Wiens is expected to not look exactly like he used to, nor like the donor. Instead, his face will be a combination of his own underlying bone structure and the donor’s facial features.

The federal health reform law helped make the surgery financially possible, since it allows Wiens to afford the expensive drug regimen he’ll need to maintain the transplanted tissue. Wiens was uninsured when he was injured and Medicaid covered approximately two dozen procedures, until his disability payments put him over the income limit.

Under the health reform law, he qualifies for coverage on his father’s insurance until he’s 26. At that point, Medicare will kick in.

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