Dallas Wiens, the first face transplant patient in the United States, has showcased the remarkable technology and incredible work of doctors that gave him a new life, describing how his story "is a miracle.”
Mr Wiens suffered life threatening burns after falling onto a live power cable which seared his face off in 2008.
Describing his situation, Mr Wiens said he was left with "no features and only a two-inch slit for my mouth."
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In 2011, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital performed an experimental surgery — the first ever in the US.
A family donated a loved one’s face, not just the skin but underlying arteries, and the large vessels were connected from the donor face to the recipient.
Medical imaging presented at a Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago showed for the first time how existing blood vessels have connected to the transplant tissue.
Incredibly, after the surgery – as blood flow branched out to smaller arteries on Mr Wiens' face – his skin was left healthy and even his tongue has grown back.
Dr Rybicki said the amazing results of the groundbreaking surgery were "surprising.”
Mr Wiens said he had now regained about a fourth of the hair on his head, all of his facial hair, the ability to breathe through his nose, and revealed he now has prosthetic eyes and a far more advanced ability to eat.
"How things have progressed and where I am today is further than we ever hoped for in the beginning," he said at a press conference yesterday.
His heartfelt message at the event was one of gratitude and also a call for others in need of help.
“The aesthetic benefits are amazing, of course, but the physical and functionality have improved my life in ways I couldn’t even put into words," he said.
"I would love to see the number of donors increase dramatically … when it’s time for their life to end it could be time for a new life to begin.”