After a firemen lived for 15 years without a face, a deceased 26-year-old bicyclist gave him his life back

Patrick Hardison (he is on left photo before face transplant) was working as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Senatobia, 40 miles south of Memphis when he got a desperate call. A house was in flames, with a woman trapped inside. Hardison arrived on the scene and raced inside, minutes prior to the roof all of a sudden collapsed. His helmet was knocked off, and he felt his mask melting. He closed his eyes and leaped out the window.

Hardison lost his eyelids, ears, lips and the majority of his nose, along with his hair, due to the fact that of that fire. He also had injuring third-degree burns throughout his whole face, head, neck and upper torso. His skin was so terribly harmed that he was not even able to close his eyes.

From that day on, Sept. 5, 2001, there was no healthy tissue left throughout his face.

Firefighter Patrick Hardison before and after face transplant

In an interview on Monday, the medical center revealed that Hardison, now 41 and a daddy of 5, had actually gone through the world’s most comprehensive face transplant to this day. The donor was a young BMX bicyclist from Ohio called David Rodebaugh, whose family donated his liver, kidneys, and both eyes to assist other patients. An agent from LiveOnNY, which works to match donors with receivers in the New York City said David mother didn’t hesitate when asked about the face transplant and called her son “a free spirit who loved life.” A face transplant is not covered under the same consent when you designate yourself on your driver’s license. The family needs to be contacted regardless of at least attempt to get a Donor Risk Assessment Interview (DRAI). This is a unique circumstance that we would ask the family for. They can end up waiting for quite a long time to find a match, because unlike typical organ donation, they need to match a donor’s skin tone and hair color, too, and the serology matching is even more limited than regular organ transplant (must be CMV negative). But face transplants are in the same category as hand, arm, and penile transplants. It’s something called Vascular Composite Allograft, or VCA transplant. It’s become a huge thing in recent years. It’s a tissue transplant, but an organ procedure because of the blood flow required. The face transplant program in the U.S. is funded by the DoD.

Firefighter Patrick Hardison and his face donor David Rodebaugh before face transplant

Rodebaugh passed away in July when he crashed with UPS guy and struck his head while he pedaled his bike against traffic on one-way DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn on July 2015. He was 26 — essentially the very same age as Hardison was when he was burned 15 years ago.
Firefighter Patrick Hardison and his face donor David Rodebaugh before face transplant

The years following that mishap had lots of dark times for the young Mississippi firemen.

He went through more than 70 surgical treatments that included numerous grafts from his leg to his face. However, he was still actually disfigured– with “no semblance of normal anatomy,” and needed to conceal behind sunglasses and a baseball cap whenever he headed out. Talking or eating triggered significant pain.

A good friend at Hardison’s church became aware of the work Rodriguez had actually done at the University of Maryland Medical Center for another man whose face had been damaged and gotten in touch the surgeon on his behalf. Hardison ended up being a patient of Rodriguez’s while the doctor was at UMMC and continued to work with him after he was recruited to join NYU Langone.

The transplant operation, which happened Aug. 14, was moneyed by a grant from NYU Langone. The medical facility approximates it cost in between $850,000 and $1 million.

In the 26-hour surgical treatment, Rodriguez and a group of more than 100 medical professionals, nurses, and technical assistants had the ability to provide Hardison a new face. Unlike previous face transplants, which included delicately sewing parts of another individual’s skin, lips, bones, muscles, and capillary onto a client, this one needed a detailed graft of both the front and back of the head that was referred to as a type of “hood.” It consisted of the scalp, ears and ear canals, parts of the bone from the chin and cheeks, and a whole nose. Surgeons were likewise able to change Hardison’s eyelids, consisting of the muscles that manage to blink. Nerves regrow, just mega slow. Like, 1-5mm a day depending on the nerve.

The team operated in 2 groups, in 2 adjacent operating spaces. One was accountable for acquiring the face from the donor together with other organs which were to assist other patients and the second Hardison.

Surgeons stated encouraging indications appeared even as he was still in surgical treatment: “Patrick’s brand-new face, especially his new lips and ears, were robust with color, showing flow had actually been brought back.” Quickly the hair on his scalp and face started growing back. Within a week, he had the ability to stay up in a chair.

The hospital stated that just 3 months after the surgery — a critical period when most rejections take place — Hardison is “doing well and is quickly returning to his daily routines.”

“I am profoundly grateful to my donor and his family,” Hardison said in a statement. “Even though I did not know who they would be, I prayed for them every day, knowing the difficult decision they would have to make to help me. I hope they see in me the goodness of their decision.”

Face Transplant

Patrick Hardison face transplant progress photos August 2015 to August 2016

Rodriguez stated that “when I met Patrick and heard his story, I knew that I had to do all I could to help him.” He stated among the most moving minutes for him was when Hardison headed out to Macy’s in New York after his surgery to purchase clothing “For him, it was so remarkable that no one stared at him. … It was a very emotional exchange for us,” Rodriguez said.
The medical science behind transplants has actually been advancing at a quick pace in the last few years. Patients have actually seen incredible outcomes with womb transplants, penis transplants, and hand transplants along with tongue transplants.

The world’s first partial face transplant was performed in 2005 in France on a woman who lost her lips, cheeks, chin and most of her nose after she was mauled by her dog. The very first complete face transplant took place in 2010 in Spain. The procedures triggered a firestorm of ethical argument about whether such risky surgeries should be undertaken to improve someone’s quality of life — rather than save it.

In 2012, the University of Maryland Medical Center revealed that it had actually finished exactly what was then the most thorough face transplant on 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris, who had actually been damaged in a weapon mishap 15 years previously. The 36-hour operation included more than 150 physicians, nurses, and staff members.

Everything from the scalp to the midline of my neck was replaced, including the jaw bones, teeth, part of my tongue, muscles, and nerves,” stated Norris, who has retained his eyesight through the gun accident and the subsequent surgical treatments. The days immediately following the transplant were promising. Norris was taken off his postoperative ventilator, and within the very first week, he had the ability to shave his face and brush his teeth. When Norris saw his new face in a mirror for the first time, he wrote, “the only thing I could do was hug Dr. Rodriguez.

In overall, approximately 35 clients worldwide have actually had face transplants. The risk of complications, even death, are really high. Even if the preliminary surgical treatment, which is immensely complicated and unsafe, works out, face transplant patients — like those getting donor organs like a heart or kidney — deal with the considerable risk that their body will turn down the foreign part. As an outcome, lots of physicians think these clients will need to take immunosuppressant drugs their entire lives.

These recipients have to be on anti-rejection medication for their entire lives, just like if they received a regular organ transplant. They do regain feeling and nerve function, but it takes some time. They often need supplemental surgeries, but very minor compared to what they’ve had to go through before!

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