Joe Dimeo is the first-ever person who successfully received a face and a double hand transplant.
He had to go through the transplants as 80 percent of his body was damaged with a third-degree burn, which is a fatal injury.
When Dimeo was 20, he fell asleep at the wheel of his car. He lost control and crashed which then caused a huge explosion. Thankfully, he survived as people pulled him out of the burning car. Though he was able to get out, his wounds were severe as most of hisbody parts had melted down; he had no eyelids, ears, and was left with few fingers.
He was moved to NYU Langone Health Center in New York City and is recovering until now.
Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, one of the doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center said that “There have been over a hundred hand transplants performed successfully, and close to 50 face transplants,So fundamentally there was no reason why they couldn’t occur together, successfully.”
One of her most popular videos showed her “empty smile”, as she had no teeth, which has reached 3.8million likes.
There had only had been two trials of transplanting a patient’s face and double hand, which turned out to be unsuccessful. In fact, for Dimeo, there was only a 6 percent of chance of surgery being successful.
To make that slim chance happen, 80 people joined the operation.
“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,” Rodriguez said, “A high level of motivation. And he had a tremendous sense of hope.”
The hands and facial tissues of the dying donors were carefully removed while in the other operating room, Dimeo’s own hands and face were removed to prepare for the transplant.
After 23 long hours of surgery, all of Dimeo’s scars were stitched. After 45 days of care and 2 months of rehab, Dimeo could open his eyes and even was able to smile. Dimeo thanked the surgeons, the donors, and everyone who were part of the operation, how his new chance of life could not have been possible without their help.
His hands’ movements are not as flexible yet, but he is still practicing till now.
“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” Dimeo said. “You never give up.”
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