Press Releases

March 21, 2011

BWH Surgeons Perform Nation's First Full Face Transplant

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.