Dallas Wiens, the Texan who made history in 2011 when he became the first American to receive a full-face transplant, made history of his own March 30, when he got married.
The couple took their holy vows before an audience of about 200 people at the Ridglea Baptist Church in Fort Worth. The couple told Pastor Scott Cox, who officiated, that they believe God brought them together, wrote CBS News. The ceremony was not a media spectacle, thankfully. “It was just really nice, simple,” Cox told ABC News.
According to WFAA-TV, Wiens and his new wife Jamie Nash met in a support group for burn victims at the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and became engaged in November. Some hospital employees who helped the couple through recovery attended the wedding. Nash suffered severe burns across her back and arms in a car wreck in 2010 and Wiens was critically injured in an electrical accident in November 2008.
The ceremony took place at the same church where he survived the accident that left him faceless. Wiens was painting the exterior of the church using a cherry picker platform when his head made contact with an electrical power line, wrote The Sun. He was blinded, and the life-saving surgical procedures that followed left him devoid of any facial features aside from his lipless mouth.
Three years later, he made international headlines in March 2011 when he received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle, and nerves from an anonymous donor. A team of more than 30 doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston gave him his new face in a procedure lasting more than 17 hours, wrote ABC News.
Pastor Cox was present when Wiens was injured and has witnessed his journey to the altar. “I was there when they were putting him in a life flight helicopter on the parking lot and watching all that and praying that he would even live, which was very doubtful,” he told ABC News. “Seeing him standing in front of the church getting married and happy is quite something to see.”
Some believe that the tribulations the couple has endured have strengthened their bond. “He’s marrying someone who can share about their pain that they’ve gone through, and their recoveries,” Sue Peterson, wife of Dallas’ grandfather, Del, told The Sun. “They have fantastic attitudes about why they’re where they are.”
After walking down the aisle, the bride told the groom: “You gave me hope, and you gave me tender love that I will always treasure.”
Indeed, the couple is passionate about inspiring hope. In attendance at the wedding was a film crew that was taping a pilot for a reality show about overcoming adversity. The wedding is the featured storyline of Down Providence Lane, a show being developed, which follows people who have experienced tragedy and gone on to help others, wrote the Star-Telegram.
The show’s producer, Carlene Altom, initially met Wiens in a restaurant to discuss his participation in the project. According to Altom, Wiens became convinced when a young man, who overheard them talking, came up to their table in tears and told them that they had to make the show. As part of the show’s plot, Altom recruited several local vendors to contribute flowers, a five-tiered cake, and even a reception party because the couple was having trouble paying for the wedding expenses.
Wiens believes that surviving his tragic accident, meeting his new love, and getting the chance to inspire others via television have all happened for a reason. “My faith says there is no such thing as coincidence,” he said. “It’s made me a better man.”