Patrick Hardison, 41, is a Mississippi firefighter and the recipient of the most complex face transplant ever done after he was disfigured in a house fire 14 years ago. Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, MD, DDS, the chief of plastic surgery at NYU, said Hardison is finally able to get a second chance at a “normal” life.
- Patrick Hardison was disfigured while volunteering as a firefighter in 2001
- He is the recipient of the most extensive face transplant
- Hardison still experiences challenges, such as pain caused by the face graft and danger of rejection
The former firefighter received the face of a Brooklyn cyclist who died in a bike-riding accident this July, in a 26-hour long surgery performed by plastic surgeons at the NYU Langone Medical Center. Hardison’s story has hit newsstands this Monday in a New York magazine piece, where he talks about his transformation.
The process wasn’t easy; Hardison and Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez first met in 2012, but the doctor promised Hardison he would eventually “make [him] normal” again. Following two false alarms in finding a suitable donor – one face wasn’t compatible and the other one Hardison refused – Dr. Rodriguez finally discovered the most promising potential match yet on August 12.
His donor’s name was David Rodebaugh, a mechanic at Red Lantern Bicycles in Fort Greene and a member of a bike club. On July 22, he was riding his bike from work when a pedestrian walked into his path and he slammed his head into the pavement. After a few weeks of semi-consciousness, Rodebaugh’s coma became permanent and he never woke up.
Shortly after the cyclist’s death, surgeons were already operating on Hardison to remove what was left of his own face, prepping him for the transplant, a methodical procedure that took over 12 hours. In spite of a few minor setbacks, such as swelling and loss of blood, the operation ended up being the largest amount of facial tissue ever transplanted.
Getting used to the new face doesn’t come easily, but his doctors say Hardison is progressing ahead of schedule. His kids and ex-wife will also need some time getting used to the new face, but it helps that Hardison can already muster a smile.
Hardison’s children were evidently really shook after the initial facial changes caused by the fire, and in spite of the great medical miracle his new face is, his ex-wife, Chrissi, said they will need an adjustment period to get comfortable with someone else’s face on their father’s body.
Image Source: Albany Daily Star