A firefighter who suffered really bad burns got a new face from a transplant. It was a tough situation, but he managed to survive even when …

Patrick Hardison got really hurt in a fire while he was trying to save someone. His face and head got badly burned. He had to wear a hat, sunglasses, and fake ears when he went outside.

Kids used to run away from him because of how he looked. But in 2015, he got a new face in a big surgery. It was very risky, but it worked! Now, Patrick Hardison is living happily with his wife and kids.

If you want to know more about his amazing story and see how he looks now, keep reading!

Youtube/ABC News

Today, we know a lot about how our bodies work. People like doctors, nurses, and surgeons are real heroes because they do everything they can to help sick people get better. It’s amazing what they can do to save lives now. For example, they can replace a heart or a kidney if needed.

Doctors have learned so much that they can even give someone a whole new face if they need it. This kind of surgery started in 2005 when Isabelle Dinoire got the first face transplant ever. Then in 2015, Patrick Hardison became the first American to get a special face transplant in the US.

Patrick was just like any other dad. He loved watching his kids play sports and spending time with his family. He also volunteered as a firefighter to help his community.

But in 2001, everything changed. Patrick was helping with a fire when he got really bad burns on his face, head, and neck. He lost his ears, lips, most of his eyelids, and most of his nose. People used to be scared of how he looked, and it was hard for him and his family.

Then in 2015, he got an amazing chance. He had a surgery where he got a whole new face. It was a really hard surgery, and there was only a 50/50 chance he would survive. But he did, and now he looks incredible. This is the incredible story of Patrick Hardison.

Youtube/NYU Langone Health

Patrick Hardison used to be a volunteer firefighter in Mississippi. In 2001, he went to a house fire, and something terrible happened. The house collapsed while he was inside.

His face mask was melting, and his hose was damaged. He got out through a window, but he was badly burned. His head and upper body were on fire.

A friend who saw him after the accident said he had never seen someone so badly burned who was still alive.

Patrick had really bad burns all over his face and head. He lost his ears, lips, most of his nose, and even most of his eyelids.

He didn’t see himself until a couple of months later because his eyes were covered for a while. When he finally saw himself, he felt really upset.

Patrick had many surgeries, but his face still didn’t work like it used to. He couldn’t eat or laugh without feeling pain, and he couldn’t close his eyes properly.

Youtube/NYU Langone Health

Doctors were able to use skin flaps to protect Patrick’s eyes, but he was still in danger of losing his vision slowly.

As time passed, Patrick found it hard to accept how he looked. Being with his kids or alone was really tough. People would stare at him, and kids were scared of him.

He always wore a baseball cap, sunglasses, and fake ears to cover up his injuries.

Having kids made things even harder. Everywhere he went, people would stare and kids would run away scared.

Patrick was in pain and felt like people were always staring at him. He started to lose hope that he could ever have a normal life again.

But over time, doctors found new ways to do face transplants. In 2005, Isabelle Dinoire became the first person to get a face transplant. Patrick had given up hope of getting the help he really needed.

Youtube/Inside Edition

One day, a friend found Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, a doctor who worked at a hospital in New York. Dr. Rodriguez had done face transplants before, so they started looking for a donor for Patrick.

After a year, they found two potential donors. The first one was a good match, but the tissue wasn’t right. The second one seemed perfect, but the family changed their mind about donating.

Patrick started to think he might never get a new face. Then, unexpectedly, they found another possible donor. A nonprofit organization called LiveOnNY found a match. The face belonged to David Rodebaugh, a 26-year-old who had a bad bike accident and died.

David’s mom, Nancy Millar, decided to donate his organs, including his face. She didn’t hesitate when she heard about Patrick. For her, it was a way for David to live on.

Youtube/Inside Edition

“When I met Patrick, I saw this strength, this strong, manly, burly kind of energy in him — that David had,” she recalled.

“David wanted to be a firefighter, an I knew if this guy was a firefighter — he was willing to walk into a fire to save people and risk his own life — then he had the strength that David had.”

Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez put together a big team of 100 doctors, nurses, and other medical helpers. They all got ready for Hardison’s surgery. It was the biggest face transplant ever done. The surgery lasted for 26 hours.

The medical team gave Hardison a new face, scalp, ears, and ear canals. They took parts of bone from the chin, cheeks, and the whole nose. Patrick also got new eyelids, so he could blink like normal.

But the surgery was really risky. Because it was so complicated, Patrick only had a 50/50 chance of surviving.

“Everything in life has a risk,” Hardison told Time Magazine.

“When it’s your time to go, you’ll go—whether you’re walking down the street and get hit by a car or you’re lying on the operating table.”

Before the surgery, Patrick saw his family, not knowing if it would be the last time.

Youtube/NYU Langone Health

His oldest daughter, Alison, didn’t understand why her dad wanted the surgery so badly.

“He said, ‘I won’t have to wear a ball cap and I won’t have to wear my sunglasses. I’ll look normal when I walk you down the aisle,'” Alison remembered her dad saying. “And that pretty much convinced me.”

Luckily, the surgery went well, but it was just the beginning of a long journey for Patrick. In the first week after the surgery, he had some scary moments with his blood pressure and breathing.

Getting a new face meant he had to relearn how to talk and swallow. He felt anxious and frustrated because his face was so swollen he couldn’t even close his mouth.

But even with all the challenges, the surgery changed Patrick’s life. He got to see his family again and meet David Rodebaugh’s mom, Nancy Millar. Their first meeting was emotional, and Nancy asked if she could kiss Patrick’s forehead, just like she used to do with David.

“I’ve been waiting a year to meet her. I’m just very grateful,” Patrick said. “Without her, it wouldn’t have been possible. It’s like she’s family. We connected that easily.”

It’s been seven years since Patrick got his new face. Since then, a lot has changed – he and his wife Chrissi got divorced a year after the surgery, after being married for ten years.

Youtube/NYU Langone Health

Hardison’s face healed well, and the swelling went away. But he has to take medicine for the rest of his life to stop his body from rejecting the new face.

“I’m really thankful to my donor and their family,” Hardison said.

“Even though I didn’t know who they were, I prayed for them every day. I knew they had to make a tough choice to help me.”

“I hope they see that they did a good thing by helping me. And I want to thank Dr. Rodriguez and his team. They didn’t just give me a new face, they gave me a new life.”

Now, as a father of five, Hardison wants to share his story to give hope to others. He wants to show that it’s never too late to keep fighting, even after a terrible injury.

“I have my own place now, and I’m working on building a house. I’m also writing a book,” Hardison said in an interview with Fox in 2021.

“I want to show everyone that there’s always hope. I don’t want people who are going through what I did to think they’re stuck living that way forever. You can achieve anything.”

Patrick Hardison’s recovery is amazing, and we’re really inspired by Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez and his team of surgeons. They’re the true heroes!

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