Waiting For A Face

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 10:44am

Texas man hopes to become nation's third face transplant recipient.

A 25-year-old Fort Worth, Texas father who sustained severe burns when his head touched a high voltage wire is waiting for word on a face transplant.

Dallas Wiens was selected for the surgery in October, and it could come at any time.

He will have the third face transplant ever done in the United States.

Thousands have applied for the rare surgery, but Wiens shot to the front of the list because of rigorous tests revealing his strong mental resolve, doctors say.

"That's the real story here, is how a person can get through just about anything," said Dr. Jeffrey Janis, the chief of plastic surgery at Parkland Hospital. "He's got the right attitude, positive mind. He'll get through this because I don't think he knows how to fail."

Janis, also an associate professor at UT Southwestern, will join the surgical team in Boston, where Wiens will undergo surgery.

Wiens is just waiting for a donor.

The donor could be male or female but must be relatively young to offer the right kind of muscles and tissue.

"The face depends not only on the person whose face it was, but, obviously, it is being molded onto the person whose face it is, so it's not like somebody is going to walk around and look like somebody that you used to know," Janis said.

Wiens, his grandfather and Janis will immediately board a plane for Boston when word of a donor arrives.

The surgery is scheduled to take a full day, with recovering lasting months.

"To be able to walk down the street and have people not want to give me a double take, that's an amazing feeling that that's going to happen," Wiens said.

He said his dream of kissing his daughter is what drives him.

"It became something so very precious that the idea of getting that back is worth any possible risk," Wiens said.

He has started a fund at Wells Fargo bank, the Dallas About Face Fund, to help with his living expenses in Boston as he recovers.

Wiens has also set up a nonprofit organization to benefit burn victims around the country.

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