Patrick Hardison – Today (top left), after the accident (blow) and before losing his face (right)
Ex-Mississippi vol fire fighter Patrick Hardison, 42, living like a ‘normal dad’ one year after groundbreaking face transplant
Hardison’s face melted when he was trapped in a mobile home blaze, 15 years ago
After 7o prior surgeries he embarked on a breakthrough transplant of a face from a donor last year, number 71 did the trick, a year after life is back to ‘normal’
Patrick Hardison being examined by his surgeon, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez
When, doctors recommended the transplant for a former fire fighter, 14 years after his face was completely burnt in a fire accident, it was with a forewarning it had only a 50 % success rate.
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Patrick Hardison , 42, endured 71 operations over 12 years, has faced tough odds before. The groundbreaking transplant, performed at NYU Langone Medical Center in August, had only a 50% chance of success. However, one year after receiving a rare face transplant, Hardison is getting used to the face he proudly wears today.
“I get on up in the morning, take a shower and get ready to start my day,” said the Hardison, a former Mississippi firefighter horrifically burned in the line of duty 15 years ago.
“I’m just a normal dad, and they don’t touch my face and say, ‘Oh my God.’ They don’t think anything about it,” Hardison said.
“Most kids when they touch their parents’ face, they don’t think anything about it. It’s part of me and it’s who I am.”
Patrick Hardison before the facial transplant
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He has survived more than 70 surgeries, but 71 was charm. The surgeries involved grafts from his leg to his face, he even got back to work at his tire shop business, but disfigured, he became addicted to painkillers.
Then in steps 27-year-old David Rodebaugh, 27, a Brooklyn bike messenger who died in the August crash. Two days later, his face was on another man’s hardison’s head.
Hardison’s new face donor, David Rodebaugh (pictured), who died in a bicycle accident.
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Hardison will get his closeup today when he and his doctors show off his new smile and update his progress at a news conference at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, where the groundbreaking procedure was performed.
He and his doctor, Eduardo Rodriguez, the hospital’s chair of plastic surgery, said Hardison has conquered the biggest hurdle, 12 months without rejection.
“He’s been getting busy living,” Rodriguez said. “He has missed out on that for a large number of years.”
Patrick Hardison is enjoying family life again post-transplant
Hardison’s odyssey began Sept. 5, 2001, when the Senatobia, Miss., volunteer firefighter became trapped while fighting a mobile home blaze that melted his mask and burned his face.
Doctors told him that some facial transplant patients don’t survive. “People don’t understand how hard it is just to face the day,” Hardison said. “And it doesn’t end. It’s every day.”
And that was before a decline in his vision forced him to give up driving.
“I was a 40-year-old man waiting for my mother to drive me around,” he said. “I lost everything. I was so young.”
Patrick Hardison has a fresh lease on life, after one year of living with his ‘new face’
He pressed on. Recently, Hardison started picking up old routines, like driving his children to school:
“There’s nothing that I can’t do,” Hardison said. “I went to Disney World with the kids and I got in the pool.”
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He misses firefighting, but recognizes that’s the one thing he can’t pursue anymore.
“I can’t take a chance of something happening. I would love to. It’ll always be there. I hear a siren here in New York and I look out the window, just to see what’s going on.
“Back home I go to the firehouse to drink coffee. They get a call. I have to stop myself. No, not this time. That’ll never die.”
Hardison’s faceless odyssey began September 5, 2001, when the Senatobia, Miss., volunteer firefighter got trapped while fighting a mobile home blaze that melted his mask and burned his face.
He survived several rounds of reconstructive surgery, and even got back to work at his tire shop business. But his painkiller addiction took him down another destructive path.