It was just another cold November morning for Dallas Wiens or so he thought. He was at the local church, his job site to repair a window. Just as Wiens climbed up the ladder, he struck a high voltage power line. His features literally melted off his face as he collapsed. It took a split second to change Dallas Wiens’ life forever. He was just 23.
Dallas spent the next three in months in a medically induced coma, while doctors performed a series of surgeries on him - 22 to be precise. When he was finally discharged, he left with a face with just slight indentations for eyes and nose. Doctors expected him to be paralyzed from the neck down and never walk, talk or eat regular food again. His family was told that he would probably not survive.
When he got back home and saw his face in the mirror, Dallas couldn’t stop crying.
But not once did he give up on life. He had his 1 year old daughter, Scarlette to live for. His strength of will and upbeat attitude amazed his doctors and family. Gradually he regained his strength and by June 2010, Dallas was walking again. But this was not enough for him. He could not bear the thought of Scarlette growing up and facing questions about his deformed face. He did not want his baby to deal with the anguish of “Why does your Daddy look different”.
Wiens went public with his story and launched a foundation called About Face - its mission to raise money for his face transplant and to help other burn victims. He wanted a facial transplant to be able to smile again. It was for the sake of his daughter that he finally signed for a gruelling operation to get his facial features back. His medical expenses were borne entirely by the US military.
In March 2011 Dallas became the first man in the US to get a full face transplant. When he woke up from the surgery Wiens cried as he felt his new nose. He could finally smell after two and a half years. “The hospital lasagna smelled really, really good" he said.
|Courtesy : newbomb.gr|
Six weeks later, he appeared on television to show the world his new face. Dallas is elated that he can finally show his 3 year old daughter his new face and feel her kisses again. The tot exclaimed “Daddy you are so handsome”! Sadly Doctors have not been able to restore his sight.
Wiens will now be heading home to be the best father and continue his education. He has no memory of that horrific accident and has never shown bitterness against the ghastly turn of events. Rather he sees his brush with a high-voltage wire as a blessing he wouldn’t trade.
Imagine your face reduced to a molten mass of skin and instead of wallowing in “why me” misery, you chose to fight back. And to think Dallas was once a guy who couldn’t care less about the world. From an Army stint that ended prematurely, to a knee injury that dashed hopes of Ranger school, to a failed marriage, life was never a cakewalk for Wiens. But look what a jolt on a cold November morning did to him. It opened his eyes to a world hitherto unknown and compelled him to hear his inner voice. Too many good things have happened from it. My family is closer now and I am a way better person. I am even a better father. This new face is who I am. The old face wasn’t.
This is a story of survivor - a moving tale of an indomitable spirit that refused to be intimidated by a tsunami of adversities. Dallas Wiens I salute your never die spirit – you are a hero for us all.