A 26-year-old man from Yuba City, California, unveiled his new face to the world on Thursday after undergoing a life-changing facial transplant in June 2018.
Cameron Underwood was injured by a self-inflicted bullet wound on June 27, 2016. Over the next year, he will undergo several "conventional" surgeries to try to reconstruct his face, while concealing the injuries to the cheeks, nose and mouth behind a medical mask.
"It was a low period of my life and we all do things that are not, you know, ideal, but you're doing well," Underwood said. press conference in June 2017.
Underwood's mother, Beverly Bailey-Potter, has found new hope after hearing about Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, president of NYU Langone Health's plastic surgery department, Hansjörg Wyss, CNN reported.
"We knew that he was the only person we could trust in Cameron's life," Bailey-Potter said in a statement released Thursday. "We were willing to travel long distances."
Rodriguez performed two more facial grafts, an operation that he says gives patients a "second chance". Rodriguez went to Yuba City in June 2017 to examine Cameron's injuries.
"When we met Cameron for the first time, we were convinced that we could improve its appearance and, above all, its functions and quality of life," Rodriguez said in a statement released Thursday.
The first face transplant took place in France in 2005 and since then more than 40 doctors have performed this surgery worldwide.
Underwood was placed on the list of candidates for the operation immediately after Rodriguez's visit in June 2017. On December 31, 2018, a potential donor was identified when William Fisher, 23, was a student at the University of Ottawa. Johns Hopkins University, died suddenly. His mother, Sally Fisher, is proud that his son can help others, even after his death, as an organ donor.
"Thank you my God, I'm so happy for you Thank you Thank you for letting my son live," said Fisher when she met Underwood in a hospital video.
Underwood was operated on January 5, 2018, less than two years after his injury. Dr. Rodriguez led a team of more than 100 surgeons, nurses, and staff in the marathon process of removing Fisher's face and reconstructing the jaw, lower eyelids, cheeks, nose, nasal passages, and some parts of the mouth.
Rodriguez added that most face transplants wait a lot longer for a donor, which affects their emotional well-being. The waiting time for Underwood, about 6 months after its listing on the transplant list, was one of the shortest ever recorded for a face transplant, according to the hospital.
"Cameron has not lived with his injury for at least a decade, as do most other facial transplants," Rodriguez said in a statement on Thursday. "As a result, he has not had to face a lot of long-term psychosocial problems often lead to problems such as severe depression, substance abuse and other potentially harmful behaviors."
Underwood spent just under two months in the hospital recovering, according to the hospital. Today, his face is healed and Underwood said he was eager to return to the "activities he likes", like being outdoors and spending time with his family, while offering hope to people who undergo a facial transplant.
"It's important to share my story to inspire others to hope and get help," Underwood said at a press conference Thursday. "I hope to be able to go back to work soon too and someday to found a family."
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