A man from Wyoming, Andy Sandness has received a ground breaking face transplant after shooting himself in the face leaving him severely disfigured.
Doctors and nurses at Mayo Clinic, watched him examine his swollen features. He was just starting to heal from one of the rarest surgeries in the world – a face transplant, the first at the medical centre. He had the nose, cheeks, mouth, lips, jaw, chin, even the teeth of his donor. Resting in his hospital bed, he still couldn’t speak clearly, but he had something to say.
“Far exceeded my expectations,” he scrawled in a notebook
“You don’t know how happy that makes us feel,” Dr. Samir Mardin replied as he read the message aloud, addressing the man who’d become his friend over the last decade.
In 2006 Andy Sandness, became deeply depressed and put a high powered rifle to his chin and pulled the trigger. Instantly regretting his decision, medics rushed to the scene with him screaming at them ‘Please don’t let me die’.
It took ten years for Andy to have the surgery with the procedure taking 50 hours itself. In that time doctors used modern 3d technology to design and mould the new face with these groundbreaking results.
Three weeks after the completion of the surgery, Andy, still unable to speak, caught his first glimpse of his new face in a mirror. Still healing, Andy wrote a note for Dr Mardini, which read: ‘It far-exceeded my expectations.’
Earlier this month, eight months after the surgery, Andy spoke, not wrote, in more detail about his impression of the reconstruction, his gratitude towards the donor family, and a return to normalcy.
“I was absolutely blown away by the result. I just feel like a normal person, walking around outside, going to the shopping malls, nobody asks any questions, nobody stares. Now with this transplant I just feel more comfortable in doing these things.
“I’m now able to chew and eat normal food, and the nerve sensation is slowly improving too. My confidence has improved, and I’m feeling great – and grateful.
“Without the donor, and the donor family, none of this is possible. I can’t say thanks enough to those people, what they did, what they gave me. I’m just looking forward to getting back out into the world and doing things I missed out on. I missed out on ten years of my life. I’m really excited.