Cameron Underwood, a 26-year-old man who has had a face transplant this year, showed his new smile to the world on Thursday.
In June 2016, Underwood suffered a self-inflicted shotgun that severely damaged most of the jaw, nose, palate and teeth, according to NYU Langone Health press release. Despite many attempts at conventional reconstructive surgery, the key areas of his face were still missing.
Beverly Bailey-Potter, Underwood's mother, meets Dr. Eduard D. Rodriguez, President of the Plastic Surgery Department Hansjörg Wyss at NYU Langone, and decided to contact him for help. Underwood and Bailey-Potter then left their native town of Yuba City, California, to travel to New York City to meet Dr. Rodriguez and his team, who would give Underwood his life-transplanted face.
"When we read about what Dr. Rodriguez did for his other patients, we knew he was the only person we could trust Cameron," Bailey-Potter said in a press statement. "We were willing to travel long distances."
On January 5th, more than 100 medical professionals led by Rodriguez, who underwent Underwood's transplant, took about 25 hours. Underwood's facial transplantation was the third facial transplants supplemented by Rodriguez and his team, which, according to NYU Langone Health, has completed the most extensive face transplants recorded in 2015.
Since 2005, more than 40 interventions have been performed worldwide, and Underwood's latest operation is a milestone in medical advancement. Underwood received a facial transplant nearly 18 months after her self-injured injury, the shortest period reported from the original incident. This quick timeframe, according to Rodriguez, would help Underwood's emotional and physical recovery.
"Cameron lived with his injuries for ten years or longer, like most other transplant recipients," Rodriguez said. "As a result, he did not have to deal with many long-term psychosocial problems that often lead to problems such as severe depression, substance abuse and other potentially harmful behaviors."
Unlike previous cases of face transplant, Underwood had to wait only six months for the donor. His donor, William Fisher, a 23-year-old aspiring filmmaker and writer, was a great match for Underwood. Fisher, who resided in New York before his death, is a family and friends remembered as a loving and intelligent person.
"Being a part of this experience has been a source of power for me in a very difficult time. I do not think I'd survive Will's death if not for Cameron," said Fisher's mother, Sally. "Cameron has his whole life in front of me – and I love the idea that Willie helps him have a better life."
On Thursday, Underwood Rodriguez thanked the medical team and its donors for the second chance in life.
"Will and his family have made an incredible sacrifice to bring back what was lost, and I will never forget it, and I am also grateful to Dr. Rodriguez and his face transplant team," Underwood told NYU Langone Health press conference. "My family and I could not do this without them We hope that my experience inspires others who have a heavy facial injury to have hope because I was inspired by the others who came before me The journey was not easy but it was worth that. "
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