Badly Burned Man Waits For Face Transplant - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Badly Burned Man Waits For Face Transplant

FORT WORTH, Texas — Dallas C. Wiens wants to be able to smile, to smell the rain, to feel his 3-year-old daughter's kisses.

Two years ago, Wiens' face was burned away in a horrible electrical accident that also left him blind. Although doctors were able to transfer skin and muscle from Wiens' back and thighs onto his charred skull, he still doesn't have lips, a nose or even eyebrows. Now, after about two dozen surgeries, the new federal health care law has helped make him eligible to become perhaps the third person in the U.S. to ever undergo a face transplant.

"I do miss my sight," said Wiens, who lost his eyes in the accident. "But I miss the sensation of my face and my sense of smell the most."

Wiens underwent dozens of physical and psychological tests before Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston — one of only two U.S. centers to perform the procedure — approved him as a candidate this month. The federal health care law helped him overcome one hurdle by allowing the 25-year-old Fort Worth man to be covered by his father's insurance. Wiens will likely wait months more, according to doctors, before a donor is found.

"I'm a little nervous as you can expect with any major procedure like this. I'm extremely excited over the possibility of just having a normal life back," he said. "There's no words to describe what that would be like."

Wiens has no memory of the November 2008 accident that took his face. Working as a contractor, he was helping his brother and uncle paint a church when, while high above the ground on a boom lift, he hit a power line.

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