The world's first face and double hand transplant has given an unfortunate young man a new chance at life, and the results are truly mind-blowing.
Just wait until you see how he looks after...
Today in 2021, medical science is more advanced than ever...
And there are now so many inventive procedures that can not only save lives, but can also massively improve the quality of them.
It's truly remarkable...
And one of the most impressive surgeries out there is, of course, the face transplant.
The mere thought of transplanting a dead person's face onto a living one is unfathomable, we know...
But face transplants have proven to be highly successful in the last decade for patients who have suffered massive trauma to their faces.
Take the story of Katie Stubblefield, for example.
Katie Stubblefield, 18, (1st pic) tried to kill herself with a shot to her face.— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar) September 2, 2018
She survived with her face destroyed repair.
Now at 22, & many surgeries later, she has a new face (donor Andrea Schneider in white top in the 1st pic)
The miraculous marvel of medical science.. pic.twitter.com/0lUf9x8k84
At the age of just eighteen, Katie shot herself in the face with her brother's rifle when her boyfriend split up with her which completely destroyed the majority of her facial structure.
She miraculously survived the ordeal and when she was twenty-one, she became the youngest person to ever undergo a successful face transplant thanks to Andrea Schneider, the woman whose face was donated after she died of a drug overdose.
Charla Nash holds another success story.
In 2009, she was attacked by her friend's pet chimpanzee, Travis, and had the majority of her face brutally "ripped off."
She somehow survived the ordeal and many years later, she underwent a successful face transplant that allowed her to regain a small sense of normality in her life.
Although face transplant patients will never look as they once did...
It gives them the opportunity to lead a somewhat normal life again and to be able to use ordinary facial functions such as eating, breathing, and smiling.
Well, the most recent face transplant success story is an incredibly remarkable one...
Because the patient also successfully underwent a double hand transplant that came from the same donor - making medical history.
In 2018, twenty-year-old Joe DiMeo's world was turned upside down when he fell asleep behind the wheel while driving down Route 22 in New Jersey.
He lost control, and the car hit the curb, flipping over before bursting into flames.
A passerby pulled him out of the car before it exploded...
But Joe still suffered third-degree burns over nearly eighty percent of his body.
The damage was so severe that, though Joe survived, he was left without eyelids, ears, and much of his fingers. He also had severe scarring on his face and neck that limited his range of motion.
His independence was stripped from him in an instant...
And after waking from a 3-and-a-half month coma, Joe eventually woke up and tried to regain function of his severely damaged body.
Sadly, Joe's fingers had been burned away and his hands were left deformed, meaning he was unable to do simple things like hold a pen or use a knife and fork.
Thankfully, Joe didn't let his new disfigurements dampen his young and motivated spirit...
And when Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez came up with the idea of performing both a face and double hand transplant on Joe, the young man immediately agreed.
There have only been 2 previous attempts to complete such a surgery - to transplant a patient's face and both hands - worldwide...
And both were sadly unsuccessful with the patient's bodies rejecting the donors.
But Dr. Rodriguez had high hopes for Joe.
"Joe is healthy, he's young, he's strong, he loves to exercise, he eats healthy, and he had that one special element which is going to be required for this operation," he said to CNN.
"A high level of motivation. And he had a tremendous sense of hope."
Joe underwent the life-changing surgery in August 2020...
And it took Dr. Rodriguez and eighty other people across 6 expert teams a grueling twenty-three hours to complete the multiple operations. The hands and facial tissue of a dying donor were carefully removed and replaced with 3D printed prosthetics while Joe's own hands and face were removed with precise cuts, to prepare him for the donor tissue.
Forty-five days in intensive care came next, followed by nearly 2 months of inpatient rehab.
And now, half a year on from the surgery, Joe's body hasn't rejected the donor's transplants making him the first-ever successful face and hand transplant patient...
And people are simply astounded to see how the young man now looks.
This is how Joe looks today...
And all we can say is... wow.
Of course, the recovery wasn't an easy road for Joe.
He had to relearn to do the most basic of things, including blinking, smiling, widening his eyes and, of course, being able to use his hands and fingers.
This was all a very painful and slow process due to the new donor tissue taking time to connect with the rest of Joe's body - he still has a very long way to go.
"I want to share my story to give people hope in the world," Joe said this week to CNN.
This series of images, spanning March 2019 to January 2021, highlights Joe DiMeo’s incredibly journey towards recovery after a car accident left him with burns to 80% of his body. He received the world’s first successful face and double hand transplant in August 2020. pic.twitter.com/atFl5JvnrD— NYU Langone Health (@nyulangone) February 3, 2021
"I'd like to recognize the selflessness of my donor, and how none of this would be possible without his sacrifice... Thank you."
Asked how he's felt over the past few months of rehabilitation, Joe said he felt he'd been given a "second chance at life."
Almost six months after a rare face and hands transplant, Joe DiMeo is relearning how to smile, blink, pinch and squeeze. Experts say it appears the surgery was a success, but warn it’ll take some time to say for sure. https://t.co/aUz824lkR2 pic.twitter.com/EGtMGZXjQk— WPSD Local 6 (@WPSDLocal6) February 3, 2021
"There's no excuse to not be motivated, or not to do my therapy. My hands aren't there yet. I have to keep practicing," he explained.
"It's kind of like when you're a baby, they're just moving their hands all the time until they get that ability to do stuff. I've got new hands now, just like them."
"There's always light at the end of the tunnel," Joe then said. "You never give up."
You can learn more about Joe's remarkable journey above.