NYU Langone Medical Center announced today the successful completion of the most extensive face transplant to date, setting new standards of care in this emerging field. Equally important, for the first time a face transplant has been performed on a first responder - a volunteer firefighter who suffered a full face and scalp burn in the line of duty.
The surgery -- the first of its kind performed in New York State -- began the morning of August 14, 2015 and concluded 26 hours later on the morning of August 15.
The recipient, volunteer firefighter Patrick Hardison, 41, of Senatobia, MS, was injured in September 2001 - ironically just days before the 9/11 attacks.
Patrick entered a burning home on a rescue search, when its roof collapsed on him, leaving him with disfiguring burns across his entire face, head, neck and upper torso. He lost his eyelids, ears, lips, most of his nose as well as his hair including his eyebrows. After enduring more than 70 surgeries in Mississippi and elsewhere, Patrick was still unable to return to a normal life.
Dr. Rodriguez -- who previously performed a complex face transplant in 2012 -- and his NYU Langone team transplanted not only the face, but also the entire scalp. Patrick's surgery was pivotal in that the donor's eyelids and the muscles that control blinking were transplanted--a significant milestone and a procedure that had not been previously performed on a seeing patient.