May 9, 2011— -- Six weeks after receiving the first full face transplant in the United States, Dallas Wiens, a 26-year-old construction worker from Fort Worth, Texas, gave ABC's "Good Morning America" the first look at his new face.
Wiens, who suffered life-threatening burns to his head when the boom lift he was operating drifted into a nearby power line two and a half years ago, was also reunited with his 4-year-old daughter Scarlette -- the reason he signed on for the transplant.
"I could have lived like I was, no problem, if I did not have my daughter," Wiens said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." "But I could not bear the thought of her growing up and being asked questions, 'Why does your daddy look different?' And dealing with that all of her childhood."
The horrific accident and the 22 surgeries that followed left Wiens with a face void of features short of a lipless mouth and a small goatee. Even his eye sockets were smoothed over with skin taken from other parts of his body.
But in March, a team of more than 30 doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists at Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston worked for more than 17 hours to give Wiens a new face -- complete with skin and the muscles and nerves needed to animate it.
Below is a picture of Wiens before his surgery. Viewer discretion is advised.
Wiens said he cried when he woke up from surgery and felt his new nose. His first smell in two and half years? Hospital lasagna.
"But it smelled really, really good," Wiens said.
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of the Brigham and Woman's Hospital Burn Center and the leader of the surgical team that gave Wiens his new face, described Wien's transformation as "unreal."
"It's so profound to see someone who had no face and no soft tissues," Pomahac said. "And suddenly there's this new person."
Wiens is the second person to have a face transplant at Brigham and Woman's Hospital. James Maki received a partial transplant in 2008, also led by Pomahac, after accidentally falling face first onto an electrified subway rail.
Wiens said he has no memory of the accident. But given the chance to go back to that fateful day in October 2008, he "would never change a thing."
"Too many good things have happened from it," he said. "My family is closer now. I am a way better person now. I'm even a better father."
After an emotional reunion, Scarlette said her dad's new face is "nice."
The transplant has given Wiens a new lease on life and a new perspective.
"This new face, it's not who I am. The old face wasn't either," he said. "Who you are is inside -- it's internalized. It's who you show the world."
Wiens' positive outlook has been a driving force behind his remarkable recovery, according to his doctors and his family.
"You have to choose to get bitter or get better," he said. "And I chose to get better."
Wiens is grateful for the first responders at the scene of the accident, the doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the New England Organ Bank staff and Pomahac and the transplant team at Brigham and Woman's Hospital, his grandfather, Del Peterson, said at a press conference following the transplant.
And to the donor and his family, Wiens struggles to find the words.
"I wouldn't even know where to start," he said. "What they did has given me a new life. It's given my daughter a new life."
Check out www.dallaswiens.com for updates on Dallas Wiens and follow him on Twitter @dallas_wiens.