Patrick Hardison, a native of Mississippi, has an incredible life story. This man had the first face transplant in American history in 2015 after a home fire severely damaged his face and neck.
Before that fateful day in 2001, Patrick had a lovely life.
Since he had previously volunteered as a fireman, he jumped at the chance to assist in putting out a home fire. Unfortunately, the portion that was on fire collapsed as soon as he entered, trapping him. Because of the severe burns on his face and chest, he was immobile.
Patrick remembered, “[My mask] was melting to my face.”
“My hose was melted already.”
“As someone who works in our field, I’ve never seen someone so burned and still alive,” friend and first responder Jimmy Neal said to CBS News about witnessing Patrick following the incident. Patrick has third-degree burns on his face and scalp. There were further burns on his head, neck, and upper chest. The fire damaged much of his nose, ears, lips, and even most of the tissue in his eyelids.
I think it wasn’t until November that I truly saw myself. September is when I got hurt,” Patrick said to Fox News. Because they had everything covered, including a skin transplant, they had made a little puncture in one of my eyes. Upon gazing into the glass, all I could manage to say was, “Is this it? “It’s impossible,'” he remembered.
This man was made to endure more than 70 operations throughout the years in addition to additional treatments. Even though medical professionals were able to stitch together skin flaps to shield his eyesight since he was unable to cover his eyes, he still ran the risk of losing his sight.
Patrick was unable to eat and was in excruciating pain. He was unable to adapt to this life because he was unable to look in the mirror. Everywhere he went, people gawked at him, and he found it difficult to interact with anyone, not even his children.
In order to protect himself and fit in, Patrick frequently wore sunglasses and a baseball cap. He has fake ears as well.”I had children. It was just a difficult moment. The injury never allowed me to take a day off. It was everyday to go out in public. And, you know, it’s just that everything is beyond explanation,” he said to Yahoo! Sports.
“You have to get ready for the kid who runs off screaming when you go to the ball field.”
As the years went by, Patrick finally gave up on ever having a regular life. However, a French woman named Isabelle Dinoire had a partial face transplant after her beloved dog severely damaged her face. This procedure was revolutionary. It was the first instance of its kind. It certainly offered a ray of hope to Patrick, who was at that point really struggling.
Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York told Patrick that he would execute the transplant operation if a suitable donor could be identified. It wasn’t always easy, but one day a donor appeared out of the blue. Someone had struck a match.
Patrick’s friend David Rodebaugh, 26, was going to embark on belonging to him. He had been declared brain dead following a severe head injury in a bike accident.
Nancy Millar, the man’s mother, made the decision to give all of her son’s organs, including his face. “You had better save his face,” I remarked. His visage resembles that of a porcelain doll. We had discussed the fact that he is a donor, Millar added.
The idea that someone would wear her son’s face meant that Patrick’s life, among the lives David was going to rescue, would carry on David’s legacy.
Nancy said, “I saw this strength, this manly, burly sort of energy in him when I met Patrick; that’s what David had.”
“I knew this guy had the strength David had if he was a firefighter because he was willing to walk into a fire to save people and risk his own life.” David had always aspired to be a firefighter.
Finally, the day of the transplant procedure had arrived. After 26 long hours, a team of 100 specialists worked together to finish the procedure.
The risk was so high that Patrick was given a 50/50 probability of survival. Thankfully, it was a huge success. The ear canals, scalp, ears, and face of Patrick were all replaced. He also developed eyelids, which allowed him to blink regularly and kept his vision intact.
“Everything in life carries some risk,” said Patrick.
“When the time comes, you’ll go, no matter if you’re lying on the operating table or getting struck by a car while strolling down the street.”
After the swelling went down and he was able to swallow and speak again, Patrick met his donor’s mother. All Nancy wanted was a kiss on the forehead from Patrick.
“May I kiss your forehead?” I said. stated Nancy. “That’s the one thing I wanted to do because when David was little, I used to kiss his forehead every night before he went to bed.”
It has taken me a year to finally meet her. Just saying thanks, Patrick continued. It would never have been feasible without her. She seems like family to me. We had a really easy connection.
Despite using anti-rejection drugs post-surgery to prevent his immune system from rejecting the face, Patrick has been recovering well. It was a new appearance, but it was also a new life.
He is now divorced and working on a book that he hopes would encourage everyone who believes they have no other option than to stay in their current situation. “Because I want to demonstrate to everyone that hope is possible.” I would prefer that others who were similar to me years ago not believe that this is the only way I have to live. You don’t. You are capable of anything,” says Patrick.
Both his rehabilitation and his survival are hailed as miracles. Today, Patrick is a happy guy because of Nancy, Dr. Rodriguez and his staff, and his strong determination.
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