I Don't Like Your Face: FaceTransplants

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Charla Nash

According to news reports, Charla's friend and employer, Sandra Herold called Charla because Sandra's 14-year-old pet chimpanzee, Travis, escaped and she needed help getting him back inside.

When Charla arrived, Travis savagely attacked her. Sandra called 911, and when police arrived, they found Charla in a devastating state. "I would never have imagined that an animal could have done that," emergency worker Andrea Repko says. "[Her hands] honestly looked like they went through a meat grinder."

Nash with Travis the chimp prior to the attack. The chimp ripped off Nash's hands, nose, lips and eyelids, blinding her before being shot and killed by police.

Nash lost her face and hands in the brutal 2009 attack. For her transplant surgery, the 30-member surgical team worked for more than 20 hours to replace Nash's face.

Charla Nash is the third American to receive a full face transplant. She also received a double hand transplant, but the hands failed to thrive and were removed.

 Mitch Hunter

He had been a passenger in a car that slammed into a utility pole bringing it down on top of the occupants in 2001. Mr Hunter pushed a live wire off the female driver, but in doing so came into contact with cable volts for five minutes, suffering terrible burns. The massive electric shock also led to him losing his leg and the fingers on one hand.

Before the transplant, Hunter underwent reconstructive surgery and wore a prosthetic nose.

Hunter's face was horribly disfigured in the 2001 accident. A decade later, the 30-year-old Indiana man underwent the nation's second full-face transplant. Here he is with his new face.

Dallas Wiens
His injury happened in November 2008 when Wiens, now 26, was painting his church as a volunteer. His head got too close to a high-voltage power line, and he lost almost his entire face from the burns.

Then 25 year old Wiens after his accident, describing his injuries during an October 2010 interview.
"I do miss my sight," said Wiens, "But I miss the sensation of my face and my sense of smell the most."

Wiens received a new face in March 2011, after his face was horribly burned by the high-voltage electrical line in 2008.
Known only as Oscar, this Spanish farmer lost most of his face in a 2005 accidental shotgun blast. Oscar (shown here at a 2010 news conference), received the world's first full face transplant in March 2010, carried out by a 30-person team. Doctors said that after 18 months of physical therapy, he is expected to regain up to 90 percent of his facial functions.

Connie Culp

Connie Culp in an undated photo sometime before a 2004 gunshot blast destroyed her face.
Four years later, the 46-year-old mother was the first to undergo face transplant surgery in the U.S. This image shows Culp before the surgery (left) and in 2009, six months after the surgery.
It all happened during an attempted murder-suicide outside the OK Corral in Hopedale, Ohio. Culp's husband Thomas, shot her in the face from just eight feet way, then turned the gun on himself. Both survived.
During Thomas Culp’s sentencing in April 2005, she not only alluded to the fact that she will forgive, she also said she would possibly take her husband back. 
When asked that question this time, she answered, “I don’t regret any of that. I’ll always love him. He was my first love.” Thomas Culp remains in jail and isn’t expected to be released until 2012, when his seven-year sentence will be complete. 
But her recovery has prompted her to reevaluate her life. And now she will no longer be waiting.
Her divorce was finalized in March of this year (2011).

James Maki

James Maki, 59, suffered horrible facial injuries when he fell onto the electrified third rail at a Boston train station in 2005.

The rail had destroyed the entire core of his face – including his lips, cheeks, upper teeth, roof of the mouth, and nose – and severely burning his arms and hands.
The surgery immediately restored much of his ability to breathe, speak and swallow.

Formerly incoherent speech is now crystal clear. "I was so happy when I could talk again," said Jim. And, as nerves regenerated and muscle function was restored, he also recovered his ability to smile and show other emotions.
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a plastic surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital, has led the surgical team that has performed all of the nation's full face transplants. Here he stands with three recipients - Mitch Hunter, Jim Maki, and Dallas Wiens. Dr. Pomahac led Nash's recent face transplant procedure.