Our Restorative Surgery History

On April 9, 2009, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) surgical team, led by Bohdan Pomahac, MD, successfully performed the first partial face transplant in New England — only the second such procedure to be accomplished in the United States and the seventh in the world. The multidisciplinary team of more than 35 specialists, including surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists, worked for 17 hours to replace the entire middle region of Jim Maki's face – including the nasal structure, the nose, hard palette, upper lip, facial skin, facial muscles, and nerves – with face tissue from a human donor.

This team, representing a wide variety of medical specialties, has built upon this success to provide other patients with the significant benefits of this procedure and to apply the principles of restorative surgery to other parts of the body. Other team milestones include:

  • March 2011 – A BWH surgical team performed the first full face transplant in the country. A team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, and anesthesiologists worked for more than 15 hours to replace the facial area of patient Dallas Wiens of Dallas, TX, including the nose, lips, facial skin, and facial animation muscles and nerves.
  • April 2011 – Less than one month after the first full face transplant in the United States was performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the BWH face transplant team performed the nation’s second full face transplant. The team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, and anesthesiologists worked for more than 14 hours to replace the full facial area of patient Mitch Hunter of Indiana, including the nose, eyelids, and facial animation muscles and nerves.
  • May 2011 – A team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, and anesthesiologists worked for more than 20 hours to replace the full facial area of patient Charla Nash of Connecticut, including the nose, lips, facial skin, facial animation muscles and nerves, and upper palate, including teeth. It was the fourth face transplant procedure performed at BWH and the third full face transplant.
  • October 2011 – A team of more than 40 surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologists, and physician assistants worked for more than 12 hours to perform a bilateral (double) hand transplant for Richard Mangino of Revere, MA. Mangino, a quadruple amputee, lost his arms below the elbows and legs below the knees after contracting sepsis in 2002. The transplant involved a composite of multiple tissues, including skin, tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones, and blood vessels on both the left and right forearms and hands.
  • February 2013 - A Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) surgical team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, performed a full face transplant on Carmen Tarleton, a Vermont mother of two who was burned over 80 percent of her body with industrial strength lye in an attack by her estranged husband in 2007. It was the fifth face transplant procedure performed at Brigham and Women’s.

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