Severe face burns: Successful face transplant for a fireman

Firefighter can live normal life again after face transplant
An American fireman who was severely burned 15 years ago during an operation can now live an almost normal life again. Last year, doctors had given him a new face, scalp, and ears. However, the man relies on medication for the rest of his life.

Advances in transplant medicine
Transplantation medicine has made tremendous progress in recent years. For example, doctors reported on the sensational transplantation of a skull cap last year. And doctors in the United States performed the first penis transplant just a few months ago. In the meantime, a head transplant is even planned.

Successful face transplants have been carried out since 2010. One who benefited from this is Patrick Hardison. The American fireman had suffered severe facial burns during an operation.

Firefighter suffers severe face burns
Hardison had suffered severe facial burns in 2001 when a house roof collapsed above him during an operation. In August 2015, the Mississippi firefighter at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center was given a new face, scalp, ears, ear canals, and parts of the bones of the chin, cheeks, and nose.

The man also received eyelids and muscles during the 26-hour operation, reports the AFP news agency. Hardison had never been able to close his eyes properly since the accident.

Waiting time until a suitable donor was found
After the fireman had decided on the transplant, he had to wait a year until a donor of suitable age, size, skin and hair color was found, whose family agreed to the procedure. The donor was 26-year-old BMX athlete David Rodebaugh, who died in a traffic accident. His mother agreed to the organ donation.

The patient leads a largely normal life again
Well, a year after the most comprehensive and complex face transplant to date, Hardison claims to be living a largely normal life again. As the now 42-year-old reported at a press conference on the first anniversary of the intervention, he was swimming for the first time in 15 years.

“My family and I made a side trip to Disney World in June and I swam with them in the pool. I haven't done that for 15 years, ”said Hardison.

"No more staring at"
According to the information, thanks to his new eyelids and the recovered ability to blink, his eyesight improved again, he could drive a car again and sleep better. "No more gazing, no more scared children running away from me. I'm a pretty normal guy again, ”said Hardison.

The fireman thanked the doctors and his family and said he wanted to encourage other people in similar situations to consider a face transplant. With him the chances of success of the complicated operation were 50:50.

Doctors' expectations were exceeded
Surgeon Eduardo D. Rodriguez, who led the procedure, said in a message from NYU Langone Medical Center that doctors were amazed at the patient's recovery, "all of our expectations have been exceeded." He said, "The ability to give Pat this level of independence was a major reason we did this operation."

Dr. Rodriguez had previously done similar procedures. In 2012, for example, he was involved in the most extensive face transplant to date, in which a 37-year-old man was given a new face after a gunshot wound.

Forever dependent on medication
Pat Hardison plans to meet the donor's family in the fall. The firefighter has had to undergo several follow-up treatments since the transplants. He is said to continue to have a medical exam once a month and is dependent on medication for the rest of his life. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Transplant gives new face, scalp to burned firefighter (January 2022).