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US succeeds in face transplant

A building worker badly disfigured in an accident has received the United States' first full face transplant.

More than 30 doctors, nurses and other staff at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital performed the 15-hour operation last week on 25-year-old Dallas Wiens.

The world's first full face transplant was performed by doctors in Spain last March for a farmer who was unable to breathe or eat on his own after accidentally shooting himself in the face.

Mr Wiens, of Fort Worth, Texas, was left blind and without lips, a nose or eyebrows after an electrical accident in November 2008.

Doctors transplanted an entire new face, including a nose, lips, skin and muscles and nerves that animate the skin and give sensation. The donor's identity was not disclosed.

The new federal health care law help make the operation possible. Wiens had no insurance when he was injured; Medicaid, the state health care plan for the indigent, covered about two dozen surgeries until his disability payments put him over income limit.

Because he is under 26, the new law allowed him to qualify for coverage under his father's plan, which will cover the expensive drugs he will need permanently to prevent rejection of his new face.

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From Belfast Telegraph