Mayo Clinic doctors perform face transplant

Andy Sandness

Andy Sandness

Miraculously, Andy Sandness survived the suicide attempt. But after eight surgeries (not including the face transplant) over four-and-a-half months, he returned home and began work at a lodge in the oil fields and as an electrician's apprentice. The face transplant - a first for the clinic - included the jaw, nose, chin, mouth, teeth, and cheeks and came from a donor roughly the same age as him who also tried to kill himself.

Sandness told reporters that he realized that his facial transplant was a success just three months after the surgery when a little boy looked at his face and did not appear frightened.

After the surgery ended, Mardini proclaimed it as "a miracle".

According to Standard, in 2006, Sandness was deeply depressed that he put a rifle beneath his chin and pulled the trigger. In June a year ago, Calen "Rudy" Ross killed himself by shooting in the head. He was warmly welcomed by friends and family and was able to find employment, but he related that he found it hard to deal with children asking their mothers why his face was disfigured, sometimes lying to them that he had been injured in a hunting accident. But his new face has given him a new life.

"I was stupid. I made the wrong choice and I'm paying for it for the rest of my life", Sandness told KARE.

Sandness was overwhelmed when he was finally given a mirror to look at his face.

Initially, doctors expected the man would have to wait for at least five years to receive the rarest type of transplant there is.

He was 21, battling depression and so he chose to shoot himself in the face.

The face belonged to Calen Ross, a 21-year-old father-to-be who shot himself in June of 2016. She carried out her husband's wishes to be an organ donor.

"I was skeptical at first. I don't want to die!"

So last summer, Mayo Clinic surgeons and nurses attempted the hospital's first facial transplant.

Lilly Ross agreed to the operation after being told that Andy Sandness still had his own eyes and forehead and therefore wouldn't be recognizable as the man she had so recently lost. It took the doctors 24 hours to procure Ross' face, they had to remove bone, muscle, skin and nerves before they rebuilt his face below the eyes. And when the surgery was over, the verdict was in - according to Mardini, it was a "miracle". And grateful someone gave him another chance to smile.

"Once you lose something that you've had forever, you know what it's like not to have it", he said. His widow, Lilly, was eight months pregnant at the time.

A decade later, the eastern Wyoming man got a second chance at a new life. He hasn't gotten any curious stares or cruel taunts from people around him, and, in his words, he's happy to be "just another face in the crowd". He also expressed desire to meet Lilly, the donor's widow.

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