Entries in Face Transplant (7)


Face Transplant Patient Making Sounds, Swallowing

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Polish man who received a life-saving face transplant just three weeks after a work accident is already making sounds and practicing swallowing, his doctors said.

The 33-year-old man, identified only as Grzegorz, underwent a 27-hour operation on May 15 to reconstruct his jaw, nose, cheeks and eye sockets, which were then swathed with skin from a deceased donor -- a procedure previously reserved for patients who are years out from their disfiguring injuries.

"Usually, the recipients have to wait between one and seven years," said Dr. Adam Maciejewski, who headed the team of surgeons at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, explaining that Grzegorz's injury was particularly extreme. "For obvious reasons, we had to act much faster, as we were saving this man's life."

Although Grzegorz is able to make some sounds, he communicates through writing because the tracheotomy tube that helps him breathe does not allow him to speak.

Earlier this month, Carmen Blandin Tarleton spoke publicly for the first time since her February face transplant. The operation came six years after her estranged husband attacked her with lye, blinding her and leaving her disfigured.

Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a Chimpanzee in 2009, got her face transplant surgery in 2011.

Maciejewski said Grzegorz's surgery was the first transplant undertaken to save a patient's life. He is still at risk for infection but is expected to recover and live a normal life, doctors said.

Although post-operation photographs show stitches from above his right eye, under his left eye and around his face to his neck, Grzegorz was able to give photographers a thumbs up six days after surgery.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Vermont Mom Disfigured by Lye Attacks Gets Face Transplant

Jochen Sand/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A Vermont mom, injured by a lye attack that left her disfigured and legally blind, has received a face transplant at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton, a registered nurse and mother of two from Thetford, Vt., was injured in 2007 when her estranged husband broke into her home, attacked her with a baseball bat and doused her with industrial strength lye.

More than 80 percent of Tarleton's body was burned in the attack and she was placed in a medically induced coma for three months. Even though Tarleton, 44, endured more than 55 surgeries to treat her numerous chemical burns, she was left disfigured, blind and unable to move her neck.

"Despite our best efforts, Carmen was left severely disfigured and in constant pain. She would drool almost constantly," Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, the director of plastic surgery transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told reporters.

Pomahac spent 15 hours leading a surgical team of more than 30 members as they carefully transplanted facial skin, including the neck, nose, lips, facial muscles, arteries and nerves of the donor. Pomahac estimated that Tarleton would regain 75 to 80 percent of facial movement and would slowly regain feeling and motor functions in her face during the next six months to a year.
This is the fifth face transplant performed at the hospital.

Tarleton, who remains at the hospital recovering, thanked her doctors in a statement read to reporters by her sister Kesstan Blandin.

"I feel great appreciation and gratitude for the tremendous gift I've been given," Tarleton said in a statement. "We're all excited to move into this new chapter of our lives together."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Face Transplant Patient Delights in Transformation

University of Maryland Medical Center(BALTIMORE) -- A 37-year-old Virginia man who received the world’s fullest face transplant in March said he no longer lives as a recluse.

Richard Lee Norris was disfigured in a 1997 gun accident that claimed his nose, lips and part of his jaw. But during a 36-hour operation, doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center gave Norris a new face from his scalp to his neck, complete with bones, muscles, nerves and skin.

“People used to stare at me because of my disfigurement. Now they can stare at me in amazement and in the transformation I have taken,” Norris said in a prepared statement. “I can now start working on the new life given back to me.”

For 15 years, Norris hid behind a surgical mask and put off public outings until nighttime so fewer people would see his face.

“I can now go out and not get the stares and have to hear comments that people would make,” he said.

With his new face, Norris can eat, taste, smell, smile and talk.

“Richard is exceeding my expectations this soon after his surgery, and he deserves a great deal of credit for the countless hours spent practicing his speech and strengthening his new facial muscles,” said Norris’ surgeon, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. “He’s one of the most courageous and committed individuals I know.”

The goal for Norris’s transplant, according to Rodriguez, was to “restore facial harmony and functional balance in the most aesthetic manner possible.”

The marathon operation was one of 22 done worldwide since 2005, and one of six done in the U.S., including those done on Charla Nash and Dallas Weins.

“We began this research more than 10 years ago when we saw the devastating injuries sustained by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from improvised explosive devices,” Dr. Stephen Bartlett, surgeon-in-chief and senior vice president at the University of Maryland Medical System, said in a written statement. “Now having seen how this surgery has changed Richard’s life, we are even more dedicated to researching ways to improve facial transplantation and helping more patients, including military veterans, return to normal lives after undergoing this same surgery.”

Norris still goes for routine checkups to make sure his face is healing properly on top of regular sessions of physical and speech therapy.

“Each day it improves a little more,” he said of his ability to talk. “I am doing well. I spend a lot of my time fishing and working on my golf game. I am also enjoying time with my family and friends.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Virginia Man Receives New Face in Transplant

University of Maryland Medical Center(WASHINGTON) -- Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center performed the most extensive full face transplant to date, replacing everything from the hairline to the collar bone of a 37-year-old man, including the upper and lower jaw bones, teeth, and a portion of the tongue. The operation took place over 36 hours on March 19 and 20 and involved more than 200 medical professionals.

The face transplant was part of a 72-hour marathon of organ donation at the center, in which five patients received organs from one anonymous donor.

The effort is being hailed as remarkable for the generosity of the donor and the scope of the operation, as well as scientific advancements that enabled the transplant.

A week after the surgery, the recipient of the face, Richard Norris of Hillsville, Virginia, is moving his jaws, opening and closing his eyes, brushing his teeth and shaving, doctors said in a press conference Tuesday.

Norris suffered a gun accident in 1997 that left him with just a skull, eyes and part of his jaw. Doctors said he has been living in near-seclusion since the accident, wearing a mask when he went out in public. Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, the surgeon leading the operation, said he had performed 12 different surgeries on Norris since 2005, but was never able to restore his face.

With the transplant, "we were able to restore those 15 years that he's lost and make him a functioning member of society once again," Rodriguez said.

The face transplant was part of a 72-hour operation at the hospital during which four other patients received organs donated from the same anonymous donor -- a heart, lung, liver and kidney.

The process began at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, when the donor was identified and doctors began to evaluate characteristics for a match-like skin tone and overall health. At 4 a.m. on Monday, the team began a 12-hour effort to remove the face from the donor. Doctors then connected the bones, muscles, tongue, nerves and blood vessels to Norris, using computers to guide them. The surgery was complete at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The surgery was the 23rd face transplant since doctors began doing the procedure in 2005.

Dr. Stephen Bartlett, chair of the department of surgery at the University of Maryland, said the operation was the culmination of 10 years of research funded by the Office of Naval Research, which hopes to put the knowledge to use for soldiers injured in combat.

Bartlett said his research team discovered that using the whole jaw bone made it easier for the body to handle the transplant.

"We believe that scientific finding will allow Mr. Norris to have much more long-term chance of success with much lower levels of immune suppression," Bartlett said.

Rodriguez said Norris has been able to see his new face already.

Three days after surgery, "he wanted to see a mirror," Rodriguez said. After seeing his new face, "he put the mirror down and thanked me and hugged me."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dallas Wiens Smiling 10 Months After Full Face Transplant

Adam Hunger/AFP/Getty Images(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Ten months after receiving the first full face transplant in the United States, 25-year-old Dallas Wiens of Fort Worth, Texas, said he can smile.

Wiens suffered life-threatening burns to his head when the boom lift he was operating drifted into a nearby power line in 2008. The horrific accident and 22 surgeries that followed left Wiens with a face void of features short of a lipless mouth and a small goatee.

But in March, a team of more than 30 doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists at Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston worked for more than 17 hours to give him a new face, complete with skin and the muscles and nerves needed to animate it.

"The ability to smile and to show emotion on my face, even unintentionally, is such a natural thing," Wiens told the Dallas Morning News. "Having a new face has changed me dramatically."

Since 2005, 18 patients have received facial transplants, most of them to restore partial face defects. Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery and transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, has now performed three face transplants, including Wiens'. The latest recipient was Charla Nash, whose face was horribly mauled by her friend's pet chimpanzee in 2009.

"I think it's important for people to realize this is becoming a reproducible technique," said Pomahac, who detailed the transplants in a December report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. "The extent of how it will be used is undetermined, but it's here to stay."

For Wiens, who after a two-month recovery reunited with his young daughter Scarlette on "Good Morning America" in May, the transplant was a second chance at a normal life.

"I don't look much different than anybody else," he told the Dallas Morning News.

Although he's happy with his new face, Wiens said it doesn't define who he is.

"This new face, it's not who I am. The old face wasn't either," he said. "Who you are is inside -- it's internalized. It's who you show the world."

Wiens' positive outlook has been a driving force behind his remarkable recovery, according to his doctors and his family.

"You have to choose to get bitter or get better," he said. "And I chose to get better."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Face of Chimpanzee Attack Victim Revealed

Charla Nash is seen after her May, 2011, face transplant at the hospital. (Brigham and Women's Hospital/Lightchaser Photography)(NEW YORK) -- The new face of Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee two years ago, was revealed for the first time Thursday.

The photos of Nash were first shown on NBC's Today show Thursday morning and were later released by Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, where the surgery was performed in late May.

Nash is still recovering from the grueling 20-hour surgical marathon by a team of more than 30 doctors and nurses. An attempt to give her a pair of new hands failed, and the transplanted hands were removed.

Nash, 57, was helping her friend, Sandra Herold, lure her pet chimp Travis inside when the 200-pound animal ripped off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot and killed by police.

Since the 2009 attack that also left her blind, Nash wore a straw hat with a veil to cover her injuries, but revealed her mangled face on a November 2009 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Before the transplant, the woman’s family says Nash had to eat pureed food through a straw. Now, she will be able to eat and is looking forward to a trip to the family's hot dog stand in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Nash desperately wanted a simultaneous face and hand transplant -- a procedure that has been done only once before in France, and that patient later died. The procedure is complicated because of the precision and coordination necessary, and the increased risk of complications. Nash developed pneumonia and kidney failure after the transplant, which hampered circulation to the hands.

The hands and face both came from the same donor, but the hand transplant failed and they had to be removed, the doctors said. But Pomahac said the team "could transplant the hands again should a suitable donor be identified."

Nash is the third person to undergo a face transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dallas Wiens received the nation's first face transplant patient there in March.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man Reunites with Daughter After Full Face Transplant

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Six weeks after receiving the first full face transplant in the United States, Dallas Wiens, a 25-year-old construction worker from Fort Worth, Texas, gave ABC's Good Morning America the first look at his new face.

Wiens, who suffered life-threatening burns to his head when the boom lift he was operating drifted into a nearby power line two and a half years ago, was also reunited with his 3-year-old daughter Scarlett -- the reason he signed on for the transplant.

"I could have lived like I was, no problem, if I did not have my daughter," Wiens said in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America. "But I could not bear the thought of her growing up and being asked questions, 'Why does your daddy look different?' And dealing with that all of her childhood."

After an emotional reunion, Scarlett said her dad's new face is "nice."

The horrific accident and the 22 surgeries that followed left Wiens with a face void of features short of a lipless mouth and a small goatee. Even his eye sockets were smoothed over with skin taken from other parts of his body.

But in March, a team of more than 30 doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists at Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston worked for more than 15 hours to give Wiens a new face -- complete with skin and the muscles and nerves needed to animate it.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of the Brigham and Woman's Hospital Burn Center and the leader of the surgical team that gave Wiens his new face, described Wien's transformation as "unreal."

Wiens is the second person to have a face transplant at Brigham and Woman's Hospital.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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