(CBS) — The Texas man who received the nation’s first full face transplant spoke Wednesday at a Chicago medical conference and told reporters his new life is nothing short of a miracle.

Dallas Wiens hopes others can benefit from the medical advances that helped him. He asks that people consider donating their faces, much like they might agree to donate their organs if they happen to die prematurely.

The “before” (WARNING: GRAPHIC) and “after” pictures of Wiens are nothing short of amazing. His face was burned away by a power line during a work accident in 2008, and only a slit – for his mouth – remained.

He underwent the face surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2011. Today, the 28-year-old is blind but has a functioning face.

Wiens can breathe through his nose and eat and smile.

“The aesthetic benefits are amazing, of course, but the physical and functionality has improved my quality of life in ways I couldn’t even begin to put into words,” Wiens says.

He sums it up this way: “My entire story is a miracle.”

“It is a miracle but it’s more than that,” Dr. Frank Rybicki adds. “It’s a lot of science  that’s been built over years.”

Now, the physician says, Wiens can be an inspiration for other people with similar injuries.

“There is life after tragedy so long as you want it,” Wiens says.

He appeared at the Radiological Society of North America’s conference at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

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