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Press Releases

April 26, 2011

BWH Surgeons Perform Nation's Second Full Face Transplant

Boston, MA – A Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) plastic surgery team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, performed the hospital’s second full face transplant last week, less than a month after the hospital performed the first full face transplant in the country. It is the third face transplant procedure to be performed at BWH and the fourth face transplant in the country.

The team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents worked for more than14 hours to replace the full facial area of patient Mitch Hunter, 30, of Indiana, including the nose, eyelids, lips, muscles of facial animation and the nerves that power them and provide sensation. Hunter suffered a severe shock from a high voltage electrical wire following a car accident in 2001.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac (Bo-done Palm-ah-hawk), BWH plastic surgeon who led the face transplant team said, “I am very grateful to the entire transplant team for working so well together, ensuring that Mitch’s procedure went smoothly and putting him on course for a successful recovery and new life.”

The donor family, who wish to remain anonymous, stated, “We are very proud that our beloved son's wishes were to donate his organs and tissue, helping as many people as possible. We are honored to respect his wishes. When we heard that there was a match for his facial tissue, we were overwhelmed and did not hesitate to say yes. We are so very happy that the transplant is progressing well. It is a gift to us to know that another young man's life could be so positively changed because of our son's giving spirit. Though we grieve our loss, we are also joyful that his passing has made this miracle possible,”

“It is remarkable and truly inspiring to see the entire Brigham transplant team, once again, perform this amazing life giving and life transforming procedure. Coming so soon after the recent and successful first full transplant, I hope this news encourages others in need and others who may now consider the most selfless human act, the gift of organ donation,” said Betsy Nabel, MD, president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Advancements in transplantation are only made possible by the generosity of organ and tissue donors and donor families.  We thank this donor family for their spirit of giving during their time of grief,” said Richard S. Luskin, president and CEO of New England Organ Bank.

  • The date of the procedure will not be released to ensure the privacy of the donor.
  • Mitch Hunter will not be available to the media for interviews at this time.
  • Dr. Pomahac will have limited time for media interviews in the afternoon.

A few minutes of video from the procedure, still photography shot during the procedure, a statement from the Hunter family and informational materials are available at

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.