Helping People Step Strong after Trauma

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 21, 2014

Gillian and her family hope that the Stepping Strong Fund helps others with traumatic injuries.

Imagine a world where patients with severe limb injuries – like survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings – could hope for better recoveries, with muscle, cartilage, and bone regenerated.

That vision draws closer every day, according to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers. They are hopeful that a new initiative, the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund, will fuel breakthroughs for patients with traumatic, athletic, military, and disease-related injuries.

A year ago, Audrey Epstein Reny and Steven Reny were standing near the Boston Marathon finish line with their daughter Gillian, cheering on the runners and waiting for their oldest daughter Danielle to cross. When the bombs went off, the Renys were among the many innocent bystanders who were injured, Gillian critically.

The family was rushed to BWH, where clinicians worked to save Gillian’s life — and both of her legs. On that tragic day, dozens of patients were treated at BWH for similar injuries.

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Important Tips for Picking a Plastic Surgeon

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 31, 2013

BWH plastic surgeon Dr. Jessica Erdmann-Sager

If you want to have a safe and successful plastic surgery procedure, picking the right plastic surgeon is a critical first step.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) plastic surgeon Jessica Erdmann-Sager, MD, recommends that you do a little research before committing to a plastic surgeon. To help you with this process, she offers the following tips:

  • Is the physician board eligible or board certified?

First and foremost, make sure that your physician is either a board-certified or board-eligible plastic surgeon. You can easily determine whether a physician is board certified by visiting the American Board of Medical Specialties website, or calling 1-800-776-2378. It also can be valuable to find out where the physician was trained, whether they have specialized training in the procedure that you’re considering, and whether they participate in local and national plastic surgery associations.

  • Check for complaints.

Check with your local medical board to see whether complaints have been filed against the physician. In Massachusetts, visit

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What’s in a Face?

Posted by Blog Administrator April 3, 2012

Dallas Wiens Before and After Face Transplant

Dallas Wiens before his injury; after the injury; soon after face transplant surgery; one year after the face transplant

Look at photos of Dallas Wiens over the past four years, and you’ll see a man of many faces.

The photo journey starts at age 23, with Wiens appearing handsome and healthy. Next, a horrific injury burns away all of his facial features – nose, lips, eyes – leaving his face scarred and vacant. Then, in spring 2011 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Wiens receives the gift of a new face – the first full face transplant in the U.S. – which provides him the typical facial features of any other man. Next stop, today – a year after the transplant – the swelling that is normal after any surgery has subsided and his nerve function has improved enough for him to smile and speak. He looks much like any other man you might see on the street.

To the casual observer, this multi-step transformation is obvious and stunning. But to Wiens’ now-5-year-old daughter Scarlette, her daddy always has been the same man. Wiens’ grandfather recounts that even after the burn left Dallas Wiens’ face featureless and blank, his daughter continued to crawl her way onto his lap, not in the least deterred by her father’s changed exterior.

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