When you think of a transplant, you probably think of kidneys, livers and other internal organs. And when you think of an amputee, you probably think of someone who has lost his or her arm, leg, or other appendages.
Occasionally, however, people can actually lose their entire face. One such man, Patrick Hardison, lost his face while working as a volunteer firefighter and suffered severe burns. Now, Mr. Hardison is getting a new lease on life after having undergone a face transplant.
The burns occurred after the roof of a burning house collapsed. Hardison became trapped but was eventually rescued.
Hardison, who suffered the accident back in 2001 as a 27 year old volunteer firefighter, has struggled to deal with life ever since. His vision has been severely limited because doctors had to sew his eyes all but shut after his eyelids were burned off. Now his vision is back to normal.
The surgery does not mark the first facial transplant. In fact, more than two dozen transplants have been performed across the world since the first one was conducted in 2005 in France. Hardison’s transplant, however, marks the most extensive one in history.
The transplant covered not just Hardison’s face, but his whole skull and much of his neck. He also received two new ears. All of these parts were severely burned in the 2001 blaze. In total, the surgery marks the most amount of tissue ever transplanted through such a surgery.
The surgery was performed back in August and lasted 26 hours.
Unfortunately, Hardison was given a new shot at a normal life only after another man, 26 year-old David. P. Rodebaugh, died tragically. Mr. Rodebaugh was killed while bicycling, having been struck by a motorist. He was an organ donor.
The donor originally hailed from the Columbus, Ohio area, and Hardison now lives in Mississippi. The former firefighter plans on being home for the holidays to celebrate with his family, and hopes to start driving again soon.
Hardison will have to undergo physical therapy once he gets home, but his new face is already promising to give him a new lease on life.