Thanks to a groundbreaking face transplant, Patrick Hardison, 42, can now drive his kids to class in the morning. He can swim in a pool, run his fingers through his hair and blink his eyes. He can also be around without people pointing at him, and children crying scared because of his face.
Hardison endured extreme burns to his face in 2001 after arriving at a house fire. He wore baseball caps and sunglasses to cover his scars and avoid the world after this accident burned off a large part of his nose, lips, ears, and also his eyelids.
However, all of that changed once he had the most extensive face transplant ever performed last year. He says the surgery has given him back his life.
“I’d like to say that I’m the same old Pat. But that would not give enough credit to the incredible journey that I have gone through over the past year.” Hardison said at a news meeting Wednesday.
Face Transplant Gives Man Second Chance
Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez led a group of more than 100 surgeons and doctors at New York University Langone Medical Center in carrying out Hardison’s historic surgery.
Since 2005, more than 20 patients have had full or fractional face transplants at establishments around the world. The group utilized the face of David Rodebaugh, a 26-year-old Brooklyn bicycle technician who died in a bike accident. He donated his organs through the Live On NY donor system.
The operation took a total of 12 hours, including the removal of Rodebaugh’s face. Afterward, the daunting task of swapping it out with Hardison’s face. Rodriguez along with his group gave Hardison a new face, scalp, ears and ear channels. They also chose parts of bone from the cheeks, chin, and nose.
He also got new eyelids and the muscles that control blinking. The surgery is the first time transplanting eyelids. Despite the fact that Hardison says his vision is “pretty good,” his vision was worse with the loss of his eyelids.
“So it was like I only had pinholes to see through,” he said. Observing Hardison’s recovery over the previous year, the medical group was in shock that his body didn’t have a rejection episode. Also, that his new eyelids kept on working as normal.
“This is the third face that Patrick lives with,” Rodriguez said, after the face he was born with and the one he had after his burn wounds.
Hardison has had around four follow-up procedures, mostly to conform his new eyelids and lips, to remove a nourishing tube from his stomach and to remove a breathing tube from his trachea.
Presently, he appreciates having the capacity to eat once more. “I’ve gained about 30 pounds; look at that,” he clowned. Hardison has traveled to Disney World with his family. He also went to visit some of his fellow firefighters, who dedicated a fire truck to him in his honor.
Hardison doesn’t have any other procedures. However, the medical group will keep on monitoring him over the next 12 months, and his facial swelling should keep on going down.