A volunteer fire fighter badly burned in a 2001 blaze has received the most extensive face transplant ever, covering his skull and much of his neck, a New York hospital announced Monday.
The surgery took place in August at the NYU Langone Medical Center. The patient, 41-year-old Patrick Hardison, is still undergoing physical therapy at the hospital but plans to return home to Senatobia, Mississippi, in time for Thanksgiving.
The surgery has paved the way for him to regain normal vision, and in an interview last week he said that will let him accomplish a major goal: “I’ll start driving again.”
More than two dozen face transplants have been performed worldwide since the first one in France in 2005. Dr Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the surgical team that did Hardison’s transplant and recently wrote a review of the field, said Hardison’s is by far the most extensive performed successfully in terms of the amount of tissue transferred. The transplant extends from the top of the head, over Hardison’s skull and down to the collarbones in front; in back, it reaches far enough down that only a tiny patch of his original hair remains — its color matched by the dark blond hair growing on his new scalp. The transplant includes both ears.