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In 2001, Patrick Hardison suffered a full face and scalp burn after a roof collapsed on him during a rescue search inside a burning home in Senatobia, Mississippi. When the other firefighters pulled him out, his face was still caught in flames. He spent the next two months in the hospital and had over 70 surgeries over the following decade, yet doctors still couldn’t reconstruct his eyelids, ears, and more.
In 2012, Hardison met Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a plastic surgeon working at New York University Langone Medical Center. The two have agreed to try the most extensive face transplant to date, covering his skull and much of his neck. The face transplant donor was 26-year-old New York artist and competitive bicyclist David Rodebaugh who died after a biking accident in Brooklyn.
The procedure was very risky. Transplants run a high chance of rejection because the body’s immune system can recognize foreign skin as an invader to be attacked. According to Rodriguez, they had a 50-50 shot of it working.
On August 14, Surgeons at NYU Langone performed the face transplant on August 14th and three months later, they told reporters that the procedure was a complete success!
“I am deeply grateful to my donor and his family,” said Hardison in a statement released by the medical center. “I hope they see in me the goodness of their decision. I also want to thank Dr. Rodriguez and his amazing team. They have given me more than a new face. They have given me a new life.”