Firefighter Receives Most Extensive Face Transplant In History

Surgeons belonging to the Langone Medical Center at the New York University have successfully gave a man the most extensive face transplant. Robert Grossman, the dean of the medical school, called this operation a major milestone. He believes that this is a vital contribution to the field of medicine and science.

Face transplant

A man aged 41 years suffered from extreme facial injuries after a burning roof collapsed on top of him in 2001. The whole thing melted through the mask he was wearing for safety purposes. Named Patrick Hardison, the firefighter based in Mississippi was then rushed to a medical center in New York. The surgeons decided that his face needed to be replaced by the face of David Rodebaugh, a 26 year old brain dead man. The Brooklynite suffered greatly following a severe cycling accident.

Surgeons
Credits: NYU Langone Medical Center

The surgeons determined the match based on various factors such as blood type, hair color, height, skin tone and weight. Skin is considered to be an organ so like usual organ transplant, the surgeons have to take into account the response of the immune system to a fresh foreign tissue penetrating the body. There are often times when the body of the patient simply rejects an organ which is why the procedure of transplant falls apart.

Rodebaugh

During the course of this surgery that lasted 26 hours, over 100 people worked in a couple of teams. They cut away Hardison’s face that had been severely scarred. The fresh face was connected to the facial structure via an attachment of bones, blood vessels and nerve endings. Subsequently, the fresh face was redraped over Hardison’s original face.

Hardison

Once the surgery was over, Hardison was able to begin a course of Immunosuppressant pills that was to keep his body from rejecting the new face. Lead surgeon named Eduardo Rodriguez said that Hardison only had a 50 percent chance of making it out alive. He mentioned that the original face needed to be removed to the core. Three other patients around the globe have received facial transplant and died.

93 days following this deadly procedure, Hardison felt normal. This reassured the surgeons that the surgery was a success. Within the next six months, the patient was able to eat and speak like usual. He is expected to have a follow up operation next year in order to enhance his appearance. It is amazing given that Hardison was unable to even look at himself in the mirror. He was able to shop at Macy’s without any hesitation.