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Texas Man Receives Full Face Transplant

Lightchaser Photography/ Donald Annino Jr., MD, DMD, of BWH Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery.(BOSTON) -- A 25-year-old man from Fort Worth, Texas, has received the most complete face transplant in the United States to date.

Dallas Wiens, a construction worker, suffered severe burns to his head two and a half years ago when the boom lift he was operating drifted into a nearby power line. The nearly fatal accident left him in a coma for three months.

After 22 surgeries, Wiens was left with a face void of features, except for a lipless mouth and a goatee. Even his eye sockets were smoothed over with skin taken from other parts of his body.

But last week, 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.

Wiens is the second person to have a face transplant at Brigham and Woman's Hospital. James Maki received a partial transplant in 2005, after accidentally falling face first onto an electrified subway rail.

Wiens said he didn't have the procedure because of how he might look after. Rather, he did it so he might feel a kiss from his 3-year-old daughter, Scarlett.

"I can't feel her kisses, and I can't truly kiss her back," he told ABC News affiliate WFAA before the procedure.

Doctors said Wiens may regain up to 90 percent of the sensation in his forehead, right cheek and lips.

Wiens's transplant, which involved a whole face and the bony tissue of the nose, is the most complete face transplant in the U.S. to date, according to Brigham and Woman's Hospital.

Spanish doctors said they performed the world's first "full" face transplant last April, one involving the nose, lips, palate, teeth, cheekbones and jaw.

The Department of Defense contributed $3.4 million to Brigham and Woman's Hospital and covered Wiens's procedure. Wiens joined the Army but had to take a medical discharge because of knee problems, according to WFAA.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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