The recipient of the first facial transplant in the United States made his public debut yesterday, saying he will go home to Texas soon to be with his young daughter who told him his new face was handsome.
Dallas Wiens, 26, of Fort Worth had most of his facial features burned off by contact with a high-voltage wire in 2008 and underwent a 15-hour procedure two months ago to replace his face.
Since the transplant, Wiens said, the most rewarding moment came when he was reunited with his preschool daughter. "She was amazed. She actually said, 'Daddy, you're so handsome,'" Mr Wiens said at a news conference at the Brigham and Women's hospital.
A team of more than 30 medical experts at the hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, replaced his nose, lips, skin, muscles of facial animation and nerves in March, using an anonymous donor.
"To me the face feels natural. It feels as if it has become my own," Wiens said, speaking slowly but clearly.
Prior to the transplant, he could not smell, had trouble breathing and underwent more than 20 surgeries in Dallas.
When the transplant brought back his sense of smell, Wiens said the first scent he encountered was hospital lasagne. It smelled delicious, he said.
Doctors, who were not able to restore Wiens sight, had said after the surgery that he would resemble neither his donor nor his old self. Yesterday he wore dark glasses and his face drooped slightly to one side. His beard is growing back and he has a full head of hair.