Firefighter Had Groundbreaking Face Transplant After Suffering Bad Burns

Firefighter Had Groundbreaking Face Transplant After Suffering Bad Burns

Jamaica Bravo

A tragic accident occurred in September of 2001 in Senatobia, Mississippi, when a volunteer firefighter was trapped inside a burning building, attempting to locate an equally trapped woman. His name was Patrick Hardison. He was the father of five children, and had prior experience volunteering, but no amount of expertise in the world could have helped him once an ablaze piece of the ceiling collapsed on top of him.

Hardison’s mask and hose were completely melted by the fiery plaster, almost instantly, and he received third-degree burns to his head, neck and torso. The man was lucky enough, thanks to the help of the other firefighters at the scene, to escape the house alive, but his burns have left him so damaged that he told ABC’s “Nightline”,“My kids were scared to death of me.”

Since surviving the accident, Hardison has undergone seventy-one surgeries in over ten years, but none were successful in improving his appearance or stopping the damage from spreading. He had become understandably addicted to the pain medication that he had to take 24/7 to ease his suffering, and was just about to lose his eyesight when an anonymous church friend stepped in.

The friend somehow got ahold of a world-renowned reconstructive surgeon, who said he thought he would be able and willing to do a face transplant for Hardison, if they could find a perfect match. Hardison was then placed on the donor list in August of 2014, but it wasn’t until just a few months ago, this last July, that a perfect match was found.

David Rodebaugh, a twenty-six-year old competitive cyclist and bike mechanic, who had registered as an organ donor, got into a biking accident in Brooklyn and passed away. Though Rodebaugh’s death was tragic, his choice to be an organ donor, has revolutionized Hardison’s life.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, the famous reconstructive surgeon, conducted the procedure on August 14th of this year, at NYU Langone Medical Center. The entire thing took about 26 hours, and Hardison went into it being fully warned that, due to his age — 41 years — there was only a 50% chance Hardison of success.

The talented Dr. Rodriguez was successful, however, and has said that in a few months, after Hardison’s swelling has gone down, “a casual observer will not notice anything that is odd” in Hardison’s new face.

Hardison told reporters, “I went to Macy’s to get clothes and I was just another guy. Nobody is pointing or staring. I wasn’t scaring any kids.” And the best part of this story, Hardison also told his interviewer that he is considering becoming a motivational speaker, going around to hospitals and meeting other victims, to show them “there is hope.”


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