Since 2005, more than 20 patients have received full or partial face transplants at institutions around the world. This is the story of Patrick Hardison, one of the 20, as told recently by CNN.
The facial transplant marks his third face in his life: his first was the face of his birth, the one that he lost in a workplace injury; the second was a face so severely disfigured by burns that he hid from the world. His third face is a transplant from a 26-year-old Brooklyn bike mechanic who died in a bicycle accident.
While the vast majority of work injuries are soft tissue strains and sprains or cuts and abrasions, there is no one who works in the field of workers’ comp that hasn’t come across devastating, life-altering on-the-job injuries. Hardison’s was one of those.
A volunteer Mississippi firefighter, he responded to a house fire in 2001. He suffered extensive facial burns when a fiery roof collapsed on him and his firefighter’s mask burnt to his face. His burns were severe enough to rob him of his eyelids, ears, lips, hair and most of his nose. His burns were so bad that his work colleagues did not know it was him until he spoke. As they rushed him to an ambulance, they expected to never see him again.
A year after his surgery, Patrick talks about the day he was injured in a video clip at the Clarion-Ledger. There are also interviews with his co-workers talking about the night of the injury. It’s a powerful story that shows the devastating toll that a work injury can take on colleagues as well as the injured worker.
It’s also the story of hope: Patrick’s surgery last year was the most extensive facial transplant to date, including the transplant of eyelids. There’s a great video about his surgery that includes interviews with his remarkable surgeon and clips of a post-surgery Patrick. He talks about the difference this surgery has made to his life.
Hardison shares his amazing story to raise awareness and give others hope:
“After my accident, my life was really hard. I hated life,” he said. “I’m here today because I want others to see that there is hope beyond the injury. I’m especially proud to share my story with other injured firefighters, first responders and US military. If sharing my story helps just one person explore the possibility of face transplants, then it’s worth it. … I have hope now, and I want to help those that are injured know that there is hope for them, too.”
Related: ABC also did a special feature on his surgery that you can access at these clips