Cameron Underwood, a 26-year-old man who underwent a face transplant this year, left his new smile to the world on Thursday.
In June 2016, Underwood suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to face, which most damaged most of his jaw, nose, palate, and teeth, according to a NYU Langone Health press statement. Despite many attempts at conventional reconstruction surgery, Underwood is still missing key areas of his face.
Beverly Bailey-Potter, Underwood's mother, read about Dr. Eduardo D. Rodríguez, chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Plastic Surgery Department at NYU Langone, and decided to contact him for help. Underwood and Bailey-Potter then left their hometown of Yuba City, California, to travel to New York City to meet Dr. Rodrigues and his team that would give Underwood his life-changing face transplant.
"When we read about what Dr. Rodriguez did for his other patients, we knew he was the only person to whom we would live in Cameron's life," said Bailey-Potter in the press statement. "We are ready to travel the long distance."
On January 5, a team of more than 100 medical professionals performed by Rodriguez performed underwood's transplant surgery, which took about 25 hours to complete. Underwood's face transplant is the third face transplant completed by Rodriguez and his team, which, according to NYU Langone Health, completed the most extensive face transplant on record in 2015.
Since 2005, more than 40 pipes have been done worldwide and underground's latest surgery marks a milestone in the medical procedure. Underwood received the face transplant almost 18 months after his self-implicated injury, which was the shortest time reported by the original incident. This quick timeframe, according to Rodriguez, will help underbody's emotional and physical recovery.
"Cameron has not lived with his injury for a decade or more than most other face transplant recipients," said Rodriguez. "As a result, he did not have to deal with many of the long-term psychosocial issues that often lead to issues such as severe depression, substance abuse, and other potentially harmful behavior."
Unlike the first face transplant cases, Underwood had to wait six months for a donor. His winner, William Fisher, a 23-year-old aspiring film maker and writer, was a great match for underwater. Fisherman living in New York City before his death is remembered by family and friends as a loving and intelligent individual.
"A part of this experience was a source of strength for me in a very difficult time." I do not think I would have killed if I do not, for Cameron, "said Fisher's mother, Sally. "Cameron has his whole life ahead of him, and I love the idea that Willy is helping him have a better life."
On Thursday, Underwood has thanked Ridedeuz's medical team and his donor for his second chance in life.
"I will never forget that, and my family is incredible thanks to Dr. Rodriguez and his face-tone team," said Underwood at a NYU Langone Health press conference . "My family and I have not been able to make the trip without them, and we hope that my inspiration will inspire others who have rigorous instincts to have hope, as I was inspired by others who came to visit. It's also worth it. "
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