A Stunning Face Transplant Gave This Former Firefighter His Life Back

Former firefighter Patrick Hardison’s life changed forever back in 2001.

The Mississippi firefighter was severely burned in the line of duty and lost most of his facial and head features.

One year ago he underwent the most extensive face transplant in history at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

The surgery was a success with the doctors hailing his recovery as ‘unprecedented.’ His story gives hope to future patients with similar injuries.


Despite his recovery, what happened is unforgettable.

Back in September 2001, Hardison and three other firefighters were performing a rescue search during a house fire in Mississippi when the ceiling collapsed on top of them.

Despite surviving by holding his breath to protect his lungs, Hardison was left with severe third degree burns on his face, head, neck, and upper torso. The accident destroyed his ears, lips, most of his nose, and almost all of his eyelid tissue. There was almost nothing left of his face with the exception of scar tissue.

2015 was when he finally got hope. After years in the hospital getting treatments, including over 70 procedures, a team of 100 surgeons and medical professionals led by Eduardo D Rodriguez, the chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone, performed a face transplant on Hardison that was more extensive than anything ever attempted.

They succeeded.


Due to the extent of Hardison’s injuries, the team had no frame of reference, so they instead utilized advanced 3D modeling and 3D-printed cutting guides to match Hardison with the donor organs.

The initial results were already dramatic, but after a year of recovery and several follow-up operations to adjust Hardison’s new eyelids and lips; removal of his abdominal feeding tube and tracheal breathing tube; revisions to his forehead, eyes, lips, chin, and ears, he is now able to engage in previously impossible activities, such as swimming and driving.