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1st face transplant recipient leaves Boston hospital

May 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The man who received the first full face transplant in the U.S. faced reporters as he prepared to leave a Boston hospital.

Dallas Wiens received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and facial nerves from an anonymous donor. The surgery took place at Brigham And Women's Hospital.

"It feels natural," said Wiens.

It was his first public appearance since the 15-hour procedure in March. The 25-year-old construction worker was disfigured when he hit a high voltage power line in 2008.

"I can never express what I have been given in this procedure," said Wiens. "I am indebted to both Dr. Pomahac and his team and Dr. Jensen and his team for the rest of my life. "

Plastic surgeon Pomahac said the transplant's results were better than he expected.

"The most fun part is to see the next six to nine months when the function will start to come back and when Dallas will start to feel a light touch on his face," Pomahac said. "To me, that's really exciting."

Doctors were not able to restore Wiens' sight, and some nerves were so badly damaged from his injury that he will probably have only partial sensation on his left cheek and the left side of his forehead.

The operation was paid for by the U.S. military, which hopes to use findings from the procedure to help severely wounded soldiers.

The Associated Press contributed to this story