The donation was only approved after medical professionals were confident that both men’s height, weight, skin tone, hair color and blood type were compatible. The operation took 26 hours and involved over 100 people working in two teams. First, Hardison’s scarred face was cut away, before the new face was attached to his deep facial structures, including his muscles, blood vessels, and nerve endings.
There was around a 50 percent chance that he would survive the operation – a mere flip of a coin – but fortunately, Hardison did.
However, this may not be the end of the story. Although the surgeons did all they could to make sure the face wouldn’t be rejected by Hardison’s body, there was always a chance that, like with any organ transplant, his immune system would attack the new face.
He was given a life-long course of immunosuppressant pills in order to stave this off, but the surgeons at the time were convinced that at some point in the future, his body would begin rejecting the face. A stronger course of immunosuppressants is on standby for if it does, but a year on, Eduardo Rodriguez, the surgeon at NYU Langone that led the face transplant team, is optimistic.
One year on. NYU Langone via Washington Post
“We are amazed at Pat’s recovery, which has surpassed all of our expectations,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “Most significant is the lack of a rejection episode. We believe this has much to do with the methodical approach we took in the matching process to ensure that Patrick’s donor provided the most favorable match.”
Hardison is clearly enjoying the incredible new lease of life his new face has brought him, and for now, there are no signs of his face being rejected. This fall, a poignant meeting will take place been himself and the family of his donor, David Rodebaugh.
A more detailed look at the progression of the face from the day of the operation to this month. NYU Langone