A man who received a facial transplant in a 25-hour-long operation has made remarkable progress and a new lease on life.

Cameron Underwood was just 25 when he suffered a self-inflicted gunshot to the face, which severely damaged the tissue and the bones of his lower face.

His new face was donated by 23-year-old, William Fisher, who had died and was an organ donor, the donation was also signed off on by Fisher’s mother.

Using advanced cutting-edge technology, including a 3D computer model and intraoperative CAT scans, the surgeons placed the new face onto Cameron. Overall, Cameron received new upper and lower jawbones, 32 teeth, a roof for his mouth, lower eyelids, cheeks, nose, and nasal passage sections, while his own tongue underwent reconstructive procedures.

After 11 months of healing and getting used to the new face, Cameron has made a dramatic recovery, though he will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life.

Dr Bruce Gelb, MD, who carried out the surgery, said:

“We are thrilled that Cameron is responding so well to the transplant. Our team has established a successful, novel, patient-donor matching protocol and immune suppression regimen that we believe provides the best outcomes for our patients because the risk of rejection and toxicity is greatly minimized.”

While Cameron himself said:

“Will and his family made an incredible sacrifice to give back to me what had been lost. I will never forget that. I’m also eternally grateful to Dr. Rodriguez and his face transplant team. My family and I could not have made this journey without them. We hope my experience inspires others who have severe facial injuries to have hope, as I was inspired by others who came before me. The journey hasn’t been easy, but it’s been well worth it.”

Previous facial transplants have taken place on people who have undergone severe injuries; however, some people have suffered huge psychological trauma from having a new face and have had to undergo extensive psychological therapy in order to come to terms with their new appearance.

[Based on reporting by: IFL science]

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