Cameron Underwood, a 26-year-old man who had a facial transplant this year, showed his new smile to the world on Thursday.
In June 2016, Underwood was shot and wounded, which seriously damaged his jaw, nose, palate and teeth, according to a NYU Langone Health press release. Despite numerous attempts at conventional reconstruction, Underwood still did not have the key areas of his face.
Beverly Bailey-Potter, Underwood's mother, heard about Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, president of the department of plastic surgery Hansjörg Wyss at NYU Langone, and decided to contact him for help. Underwood and Bailey-Potter then left their hometown, Yuba City, California, to travel to New York to meet Dr. Rodriguez and his team, who would give Underwood his transplanted face.
"When we read what Dr. Rodriguez had done for his other patients, we knew that he was the only person we would trust for Cameron's life," Bailey-Potter said in a statement. press. "We were willing to travel long distances."
On January 5th, a team of more than 100 health professionals led by Rodriguez performed a facial transplant under Underwood, which lasted approximately 25 hours. Underwood's facial transplant was the third facial transplant done by Rodriguez and his team, which, according to NYU Langone Health, performed the largest facial transplant ever recorded in 2015.
Since 2005, more than 40 masks have been made in the world and the last surgery of Underwood marks a milestone in the medical procedure. Underwood received the facial transplant nearly 18 months after his self-inflicted injury, the shortest period reported since the original incident. According to Rodriguez, this quick delay would contribute to Underwood's emotional and physical recovery.
"Cameron has not lived with his injury for a decade or more, like most other facial transplants," Rodriguez said. "As a result, he has not had to deal with many long-term psychosocial issues that often result in problems such as severe depression, substance abuse, and other potentially dangerous behaviors."
Unlike previous facial graft cases, Underwood waited only six months before receiving a donor. His donor, William Fisher, aspiring filmmaker and 23-year-old writer, was a great match for Underwood. Fisher, who resided in New York before his death, is recognized by family and friends as a loving and intelligent individual.
"Being part of this experience has been a source of strength for me during a very difficult time. I do not think I would have survived Will's death if it was not for Cameron, "said Fisher's mother, Sally. "Cameron has his whole life in front of him and I like the idea that Willie helps him lead a better life."
On Thursday, Underwood thanked Rodriguez's medical team and donor for his second chance in life.
"Will and his family made an incredible sacrifice to restore what had been lost. I will never forget that. I am also forever grateful to Dr. Rodriguez and his facial transplant team, "Underwood told a press conference at NYU Langone Health. "My family and I could not have made this trip without them. We hope that my experience inspires hope to those seriously injured in the face, inspired by those who preceded me. The trip was not easy, but it was worth it. "
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