Press Releases

April 10, 2009

BWH Surgeons Perform Facial Transplant

Boston, MA - A Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) plastic surgery team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, performed a partial face transplant April 9, 2009, the second such procedure to be performed in the U.S.

The team of seven plastic surgeons and one ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents worked for 17 hours in replacing the mid-face area of the patient including the nose, hard palate, upper lip, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and the nerves that power them and provide sensation.

"Advances in transplantation only happen when there are individuals and families who can see past their own tragic circumstances and agree to donation.  A gift such as this holds the promise of health and hope for a patient in need and it was New England Organ Bank's honor to work with such a remarkable donor family," said Kevin O'Connor, Senior Vice President, New England Organ Bank.

To protect privacy, the patient wishes to remain anonymous and 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. Signing up 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.

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. Since 1984, BWH has performed more than 560 heart transplants.

Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is a 777-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery network. In July of 2008, the hospital opened 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 860 physician-investigators and renowned biomedical scientists and faculty supported by more than $416 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