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This Man Went Under A Face Transplant Surgery Of 56 HOURS To Get A New Face And A New Life

What are we without our identities? And the first aspect of our identities is our face or our bodies because that is the very first thing that anyone notices about us. Now imagine this part of our identity is damaged and people always give us a second look. We try to ignore it but we cannot. We isolate ourself and live with the trauma every day until something miraculous happens!
In June, Mayo Clinic performed their first face transplant. This medical feat is very complicated to achieve and hence, rare. This face transplant did not only give Andy his identity back but it also gave him his life back!

Let’s go 10 years back in time. Andy Sandness who was only 21 years then, attempted suicide. Fortunately, he survived but due to a shot to his chin, most of his face was severely damaged. His jaw, teeth and nose were missing and the doctors at the Mayo Clinic tried to but couldn’t repair his face.

Heavy hearted Andy returned home to Wyoming and continued with his job.

6 years later, i.e. in 2012, the Mayo Clinic suggested the idea of a face transplant. They informed Andy about the risks and challenges involved but Andy was sure of going ahead with the idea.

“WHEN YOU LOOK LIKE I LOOKED AND YOU FUNCTION LIKE I FUNCTIONED, EVERY LITTLE BIT OF HOPE THAT YOU HAVE, YOU JUST JUMP ON IT. THIS WAS THE SURGERY THAT WAS GOING TO TAKE ME BACK TO NORMAL.”

A tremendous amount of preparation was required and it went on for about three years. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic underwent training for 50 Saturdays, i.e, for over a year!


In 2016, Andy was added to the organ donor list. No one had expected to find a perfect match but within 5 months Andy had an organ donor. A 21-year-old man named Calen “Rudy” Ross had shot himself in the head and he was an organ donor.


Ross’s wife, Lily Ross was hesitant at first for the face transplant. She was pregnant at that time and said she consented to the face transplant because she wanted to show their son how his dad helped somebody.


The process took 56 hours. The team consisted of 60 staff members. One whole day, 24 hours, was spent on gathering bone, muscles and skin from the donor.


The remaining 32 hours were spent on the transplant of the nose, cheeks, mouth, teeth, lips, jaw, and chin onto Andy.


Andy wasn’t allowed to see his reflection for three weeks but when he finally saw his face he was overjoyed!

“ONCE YOU LOSE SOMETHING THAT YOU’VE HAD FOREVER, YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE NOT TO HAVE IT.” AND ONCE YOU GET A SECOND CHANCE TO HAVE IT BACK, YOU NEVER FORGET IT.”

Three months after the surgery, Andy finally felt that he looked like a normal person because while he was in the elevator, a kid looked up at him without being shocked, which had never happened before the surgery!


He has also regained his ability to smell, breathe and eat and as of now he is quite enjoying being ‘normal’.

Fate is twisted sometimes. It distorted a 21-year-old face, 10 years ago, only to take a life of another 21-year-old to get the first victim his face back.
News Source: Business Insider

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