Updated 20 November 2015

Face transplant patient Pat Hardison sees himself for the first time

Pat Hardison, the New York firefighter who suffered extensive burns 14 years ago received a groundbreaking face transplant in August. Here he sees his new face for the first time.

Earlier this week News24 reported on the miracle face transplant operation on Patrick Hardison, a volunteer firefighter who burnt his face off 14 years ago when he entered a burning house to save a woman in Senatobia in northwestern Mississippi.

Now, in August this year a pioneering team of doctors at the NYU Langone Medical Centre in New york performed the most extensive face transplant ever to help give Patrick a new face.

The surgery, which lasted 26 hours and involved about 150 medical staff, paved the way for him to regain normal vision. This in turn will help him accomplish his dream of driving again.

Doctors used a layer of skin from his legs to cover his wounded head.

The transplant extends from the top of his head, over his skull and down to the collarbones in front.

In the back, it reaches far enough down that only a tiny patch of Hardison's original hair remains. He has no scars on his new face because the seam of the transplanted tissue - donated by a cyclist who died in a biking accident - runs down the back of his skull.

Read: Tygerberg revolutionises burns treatment

Patrick was so badly burnt, he lost his ears, lips and most of his nose as well as all of his eyelid tissue, which meant he couldn't blink. To remedy this, doctors originally used skin grafts to reinforce what remained of his eyelids and sewed them shut to protect his eyes.

This left him with only pinhole vision.

Now, three months after the skin transplant operation, his face remains swollen but that is expected to go away in time - and he can see. He will continue taking medication to prevent his body from rejecting the transplant.

Here Pat Hardison sees his new face for the first time. Video: ABC Nightline

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Patrick Hardison before the accident, after receiving the first skin grafts and, today, with his new donor face. Images from AP.

Read more:

Burn victim undergoes cutting edge procedure in Johannesburg hospital

Bio-engineered skin may be a reality one day

What you need to know about burns


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