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Firefighter Left With Disfiguring Burns Undergoes ‘Most Extensive’ Face Transplant

A Mississippi volunteer firefighter whose face was burned beyond recognition in 2001 now lives with the face of a Brooklyn artist and cyclist after receiving the “most extensive” face transplant in history.

On September 5, 2001, Patrick Hardison’s face was severely burned while he was trying to rescue a woman inside a burning home in Senatobia, Mississippi. All of a sudden, a roof collapsed on him and melted his face mask. Although he was able to escape death by jumping out a window, his face became hardly recognizable as he lost his ears, eyelids, nose, lips and ears. In addition, his neck and torso were also seriously burned.

Patrick Hardison before the accident PHOTO CREDIT: NYU Langone Medical Center via Vice News
Patrick Hardison before the accident
PHOTO CREDIT: NYU Langone Medical Center via Vice News

As a result Hardison had to undergo more than 70 surgeries. However, it still didn’t allow him to return to his normal life.

When going outside, Hardison had to ear sunglasses, a baseball hat and prosthetic ears.

But in 2012, Hardison met Dr. Eduargo Rodriguez, an expert in facial transplant. It took more than a year of waiting before they finally found a donor for Hardison.

The donor was a 26-year-old cyclist named David Rodebaugh who was declared brain dead after a bike accident. His mother was more than willing to donate his face to Hardison knowing that her son had always wanted to be a fireman.

David Rodebaugh PHOTO CREDIT: NYU Langone Medical Center via Vice News
David Rodebaugh
PHOTO CREDIT: NYU Langone Medical Center via Vice News

It took more than 100 doctors and nurses and 26 hours to perform the gruelling surgery. The revolutionary medical procedure gave Hardison a new face, eyelids, scalp, ears and certain portions of the bone from the nose, chin and cheeks.

PHOTO CREDIT: Irish Times
PHOTO CREDIT: Irish Times

The groundbreaking surgery not only gave Hardison a new face, it also gave him a new life.

PHOTO CREDIT: LA Times
PHOTO CREDIT: LA Times

“His surgery sets new standards in facial transplantation and will serve as an amazing learning tool,” explained Dr. Rodriguez.

What is a Face Transplant?

A medical procedure that aims to replace all or portions of a person’s face using tissue from a cadaver, face transplant has been performed on humans since 2005.

Individuals whose faces were disfigured by disease, burns, trauma as well as brith defects are good candidates for this procedure.

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