1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Full-face transplant recipient addresses media

msnbc.com news services
updated 5/9/2011 1:08:40 PM ET 2011-05-09T17:08:40

The nation's first full face transplant recipient said the first thing his young daughter told him when she saw him after the operation was "Daddy, you're so handsome."

Dallas Wiens (WEENS), sporting a goatee and dark sunglasses, joined surgeons Monday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in his first public appearance since the 15-hour procedure in March.

Dallas Wiens
Steven Senne  /  AP
Face transplant recipient Dallas Wiens, of Fort Worth, Texas, center right, takes questions from members of the media as plastic surgeons, Dr. Elof Eriksson, left, and Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, second from left, look on during a news conference at Brigham And Women's Hospital, in Boston, Monday, May 9, 2011.

"It feels natural," said the 26-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, man, who received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and nerves from an anonymous donor. "It feels as if it's my own." The operation was paid for by the U.S. military, which hopes to use findings from the procedure to help soldiers with severe facial wounds.

Wiens' features were all but burned away and he was left blind after hitting a power line while painting a church in November 2008.

Surgeons said the transplant was not able to restore his sight, and some nerves were so badly damaged from his injury that he will probably have only partial sensation on his left cheek and the left side of his forehead.

Wiens, who lost his sense of smell after the accident, said first thing he was able to smell after the surgery was lasagne. "It smelled delicious," he said Monday.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. What 'Wonder Years' taught us about life: Kevin, Paul, Winnie reunite, remember

      The stars of the iconic '80s show say it took growing up themselves to really learn the lessons they spent years teaching ...

    2. Watch this paralyzed groom walk down the aisle at his wedding
    3. Cobie Smulders expecting second child with husband Taran Killiam
    4. See the adorable way CaCee Cobb, Donald Faison announced baby No. 2
    5. Take a closer look at this lifelike Benedict Cumberbatch wax figure

In an Associated Press story and a YouTube video last fall, Wiens spoke poignantly about why he wanted a transplant and how he wanted to smile again and feel kisses from his daughter, Scarlette, who turns 4 next month. Face transplants give horribly disfigured people hope of an option other than "looking in the mirror and hating what they see," he said.

He told the AP that his daughter and his faith have kept him motivated.

The surgery was paid for by the Department of Defense, which gave the hospital a $3.4 million research grant for five transplants.

About a dozen face transplants have been done worldwide, in the U.S., France, Spain and China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Frank Ryland

    Watch this paralyzed groom walk down the aisle at his wedding

    10/21/2014 11:00:13 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T23:00:13
  1. Courtesy of Beau Coffron

    This dad's spooky Halloween lunches will wow you

    10/21/2014 7:31:19 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T19:31:19
  1. Jason Merritt / Getty Images

    Jennifer Garner: No one asks Ben about work-family balance

    10/21/2014 8:58:13 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T20:58:13
  1. Tim Rooke/rex / AP

    Kate's back! Duchess Kate appears for first time since pregnancy news

    10/21/2014 11:57:43 AM +00:00 2014-10-21T11:57:43
  1. Ebola outbreak: West Africans must arrive at 5 US airports

    All travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa must pass through one of five major U.S. airports with heightened entry screening before entering the country, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.

    10/21/2014 4:22:36 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T16:22:36