BWH Surgeons Perform Nation's First Full Face Transplant

Top Quote The first full face transplant in the country by Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) plastic surgery team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, performed last week, the second face transplant procedure to be performed at BWH. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) April 20, 2011 - A Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) plastic surgery team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, performed the first full face transplant in the country last week, the second face transplant procedure to be performed at BWH.

    The team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents worked for more than 15 hours to replace the facial area of patient Dallas Wiens, including the nose, lips, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and the nerves that power them and provide sensation.

    "Today's tremendous news marks a new milestone in Brigham and Women's legacy in transplant surgery. The pioneering achievement accomplished by the entire transplant team is a gift made possible by the most selfless act one human being can do for another, organ donation," said Betsy Nabel, MD, president of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

    "This remarkable, anonymous gift is another example of the life-affirming power of organ and tissue donation," said Richard S. Luskin, president and CEO of New England Organ Bank. "As always we are immensely grateful to the donor and the donor family for their generosity."

    A news conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital is scheduled for today, 11 a.m. in Carrie Hall, 15 Francis Street. Please confirm attendance at 617-534-1605 or via pager at 617-732-6660 pager ID 12247.

    Available at the press event will be a few minutes of broadcast quality video from the procedure and access to still photography shot during the procedure.

    Order of speakers:

    Dr. Elof Eriksson - chief, Division of Plastic Surgery, BWH

    Dr. Bohdan Pomahac - plastic surgeon, director, BWH Burn Unit

    Del Peterson - Dallas Wiens' Grandfather

    Questions and Answers

    The patient will not attend the news conference and will not be available for interviews.

    Consent for the donation of the tissue graft from the face was obtained by New England Organ Bank staff after conversations with the donor family. Registering as an organ and tissue donor on a driver's license is not accepted as consent for face donation; family consent is required.

    Transplant History at BWH

    Today, BWH is recognized as one of the world's leaders in transplantation.

    In 1954, a BWH team led by Dr. Joseph Murray performed the first successful human organ donor transplant, a kidney, from one brother to another. In recognition of this achievement, Dr. Murray received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1990.

    The first heart transplant in New England was performed at BWH in 1984; this year, the 600th heart transplant was successfully performed at the hospital.

    The first heart-lung transplant in Massachusetts was done at BWH in 1992

    BWH also performed the first triple organ transplant and the first quintuple lung transplant in the United States in 1995 and 2004 respectively.

    In 2006, BWH performed for the first time in its history 100 kidney transplants in one year and in 2008, more than 30 lung transplants were performed, putting BWH among the top hospitals in the country for volume.

    Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is a 793-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery network. BWH is the home of the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, the most advanced center of its kind. BWH is committed to excellence in patient care with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery. The BWH medical preeminence dates back to 1832, and today that rich history in clinical care is coupled with its national leadership in quality improvement and patient safety initiatives and its dedication to educating and training the next generation of health care professionals.

    Through investigation and discovery conducted at its Biomedical Research Institute (BRI), BWH is an international leader in basic, clinical and translational research on human diseases, involving more than 900 physician-investigators and renowned biomedical scientists and faculty supported by more than $ 537 M in funding. BWH is also home to major landmark epidemiologic population studies, including the Nurses' and Physicians' Health Studies and the Women's Health Initiative. For more information about BWH, please visit

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