Patrick Hardison received a new face after third-degree burns, this is him today

The life story of Patrick Hardison from Mississippi is nothing less than a mind-blowing one. This man is the first American who has received a face transplant back in 2015 after his face and neck were left completely disfigured during a house fire.

Patrick’s life was a great one up until the day the tragedy struck in 2001.

He worked as a volunteer firefighter earlier in his life, so when he got called to help with a house fire, he didn’t hesitate. Sadly, once he entered the burning place, it collapsed on top of him and trapped him. He couldn’t move and his torso and face were severely burnt.

“[My mask] was melting to my face,” Patrick recalled. “My hose [was] already melted.”

“For somebody who does what we do for a living, I’ve never seen anybody burned that bad that was still alive,” friend and first responder Jimmy Neal told CBS News of seeing Patrick after the accident.

Youtube/ABC News

Patrick suffered third degree burns on his face and scalp. He also sustained burns to his head, neck, and upper torso. The fire also claimed his ears, lips, most of his nose, and even most of his eyelid tissue.

“I didn’t actually see myself until probably November. I got injured in September,” Patrick told Fox News. “They had cut a little pinhole in one of my eyelids because they had everything covered, skin graft. I looked in the mirror and all I could do, I said, ‘this is it? I can’t do this,’” he recalled.

Over the years, this man was forced to undergo over 70 surgeries, as well as other procedures. He couldn’t close his eyes and doctors were able to put together flaps of skin to protect his vision, but he was still facing the risk of going blind.

Youtube/NYU Langone Health

Patrick couldn’t eat without feeling excruciating pain. He just couldn’t get used to this life because he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror. Wherever he went, everyone starred at him, and he could barely stand being around people, even his children.

In order to hide and protect himself, Patrick wore sunglasses and a baseball cap all the time. He also had ear prosthetic.

“I had kids. It was just a tough time. I never got a day off from the injury. When you walk out in public, it was daily. And, you know, it’s just so — there’s no way to explain everything,” he told Yahoo! Sports.

“You go to the ball field, you have to prepare yourself for the kid that goes running off screaming.”

Youtube/NYU Langone Health

Years went by and Patrick lost hope of ever having a normal life. But then, French woman named Isabelle Dinoire received a partial face transplant after her face was severely disfigured by her pet dog. This procedure was revolutionary. It was the first ever of that kind. Surely, it gave a glimpse of hope to Patrick who at that point was truly struggling.

Patrick met doctor Eduardo D. Rodriguez from the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York who told him he would do the transplant surgery if they find a matching donor. It wasn’t easy, but one day, out of the blue, a donor appeared. LiveOnNY, a nonprofit that coordinates organ donations in the New York area, had found a match. The face Patrick was about to get belonged to 26-year-old David Rodebaugh who had sustained a massive head injury in a bike accident and had been declared brain dead.

Youtube/Inside Edition

This young man’s mother, Nancy Millar, decided to donate her son’s organs, including his face. “I said, ‘You better save his face. He has the face of a porcelain doll.’ And he’s a donor — we had talked about it,” Millar told People.

The thought of someone receiving her son’s face meant that David would continue to live on through the people whose lives he was about to save, including Patrick’s.

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

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