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Badly Burned Firefighter Given Most Extensive Face Transplant Ever

November 17, 2015 3 min read

Firefighters are aware of the risks they put themselves under in the line of duty. One brave man experienced the repercussions of fire to an extreme. The 41-year-old volunteer firefighter, Patrick Hardison, was badly burned in a 2001 blaze. But, this past August at the NYU Langone Medical Center, he received the most extensive face transplant ever, which extended from the top of his head, over his skull and down to his collarbones. It also includes both of his ears. Patrick is still undergoing physical therapy at the hospital, and is hoping to make it home for Thanksgiving in Senatobia, Mississippi. One of the biggest hopes for Patrick is to regain normal vision and hopefully be able to drive again. As for face transplants, more than two dozen have been executed in the world since the very first one occurred in 2005. Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez led the surgical team in charge of Patrick's transplant, and noted of the surgery that it was definitely the most extensive one performed successfully to date. This man was badly burned in a firefighting incident. His transplant is incredible. Dr. Amir Dorafshar, who is the co-director of the face transplant program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, but was not involved in the surgery, said, "This type of treatment option will potentially revolutionize the care of patients with severe facial burn injuries." The surgery, which lasted a total of 26 hours, took place on Aug. 14, leaving no scars. The donor involved was a 26-year-old New York artist named David P. Rodebaugh who is also a competitive bicyclist. The donor died from a biking accident in Brooklyn. [bctt tweet="Badly Burned Firefighter Given Most Extensive Face Transplant Ever"] Patrick's incident specifically occurred on Sept. 5, 2001 in Senatobia, when the father of three entered a burning house to rescue a woman. The roof collapsed on him, however, leaving him with third-degree burns that covered his head, neck and upper torso. After the incident, he recovered for two months in a Memphis burn center where a layer of skin from his legs was used to cover his wounds. He was left with barely any eyesight, since skin grafts were utilized to aid in recovering what was left of his eyelids, then sewed almost shut for protection. "I was almost totally blind," Patrick noted. "I could see just a little bit." Though he was left with what Rodriguez referred to as "one huge scar," Patrick still attended baseball games and other outdoor activities, even though he was well aware that people were constantly staring. Though he tried to stay as positive as possible, it was hard. One can only imagine that 71 surgeries would take a huge toll on a person's strength mentally and physically. This man was badly burned in a firefighting incident. His transplant is incredible. How Patrick decided to undergo the extensive face transplant was thanks to a church friend who reached out to Rodriguez. The doctor responded by saying he would try to help. In August 2014, the volunteer firefighter was put on a waiting list. "We were looking for the ideal donor," said Rodriguez. Biological traits, skin and hair color were all important. And a year later, the competitive biker who lost his life came up as a potential donor by LiveOnNY. His mother, who gave permission to proceed, said that her son had always wanted to be a firefighter. Soon, Patrick was undergoing the surgery, paid for by the hospital. Three months have gone by, and while his face is still swollen, his doctor says that will definitely go away within a few more months. More surgery is to come, but he is expected to eventually regain his normal vision. And in the future, "a casual observer will not notice anything that is odd" in regards to how Patrick appears in the face, explained Rodriguez. Patrick already sees the difference. "I used to get stared at all the time, but now I'm just an average guy." He plans to become a motivational speaker for wounded veterans. As for his message, it is pretty simple yet pretty powerful. "Just how there is hope." What are your thoughts on this story? Have you ever known someone badly burned? Source: ABC News [caption id="attachment_118224" align="alignleft" width="100"]@BodyRockTV @BodyRockTV[/caption] [caption id="attachment_118223" align="alignleft" width="100"]@BodyRockOfficial @BodyRockOfficial[/caption]

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