One Year On From Pioneering Face Transplant, Patient Says Surgery Has "Given Me Back My Life"

Patrick Hardison, one year on. NYU Langone

Robin Andrews 25 Aug 2016, 16:28

A year on from his one-of-a-kind face transplant, Patrick Hardison has said that the “surgery has truly given me back my life,” adding that he recently went on a family vacation to Disney World and swam in the pool with his kids – something he hadn’t done in 15 years.

“I go about my day just like everyone else,” Hardison explained at a press conference at NYU Langone Medical Center, the institute where the operation took place back in August 2015. “It’s allowed me to do things with my family that I had not been able to do. I can’t tell you what a sense of freedom it is to even drive my kids to school.”

Since his new face was attached, he has had several more minor operations to adjust his new eyelids and lips, to remove the feeding tube from his abdomen and the breathing tube from his trachea, and remove some excess skin. The pictures speak for themselves – compared to how Hardison looked before the operation, it’s now impossible to tell he was ever involved in a traumatic accident back in 2001. 

“There are no more stares, no more frightened children running away from me. I’m pretty much just a normal guy,” he said. “Now, I want to help others to pursue this type of surgery, especially fellow firefighters and members of the armed services. There definitely is hope.”

This firefighter was the prime candidate for the groundbreaking surgery. Injured by a collapsing building while on the job, he was left with severe facial injuries and burns that, for anyone else, would be a permanent fixture. After living with his horrific scars for 14 years, he had a rather melancholy stroke of luck – he was to be given the face of a brain-dead man who was left in a vegetative state after a cycling accident.

Thanks to his functioning new eyelids, he can blink properly and has restored sight, which means he can drive a car just like anyone else. NYU Langone

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