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World’s First Face And Hands Transplant Gives Car Crash Survivor A ‘Second Chance At Life’

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  • Joe Dimeo had a tragic accident in 2018, which led to him suffering fro third-degree burns.
  • Thanks to the doctors and a donor, he eventually became the world’s first face and hands transplant recipient.
  • Joe is hoping his story will serve as an inspiration to others.

In 2018, Joe Dimeo fell asleep while driving on Route 22 in New Jersey. It resulted to a tragic vehicular accident that burned almost 80% of his body after his car flipped over and caught fire.

Fortunately, a stranger was able to save him. He was eventually rushed to the hospital and while he managed to survive, Joe ended up with serious burns and injuries. He lost his eyelids, his ears, and most of his fingers plus he had severe scars on the neck, face, and eyes.

Fast forward to the present, Joe, now 22 years old, became the world’s first patient to receive face and hands transplant at the NYU Langone Medical Center. The operation took 23 hours and required 80 people from 6 surgical teams.

Team leader Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez described Joe as “the most highly motivated patient” he ever met.

He also pointed out that while the surgery was done last August 2020, doctors had to wait to make sure that the transplants weren’t rejected before they declared it a success.

“There have been over a hundred hand transplants performed successfully, and close to 50 face transplants,” je shared. “So fundamentally there was no reason why they couldn’t occur together, successfully.”

Joe Dimeo before the accident

Rodriguez also added:

“We needed to avoid infection, we needed to have this operation occur as fast as possible, we had to be very selective with the donor, and we had to implement every state of the art technology that would ensure complete success of Joe’s operation, and that’s exactly what we did.

“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 – a high level of motivation. And he had a tremendous sense of hope.”

Meanwhile, Joe said he’s just really grateful to have a “second chance at life.”

He remarked:

“I want to share my story to give people hope in the world. I’d like to recognize the selflessness of my donor, and how none of this would be possible without his sacrifice…. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. You never give up.”

For now, he’s doing his best to practice using his hands.

“It’s kind of like when you’re a baby, they’re just moving their hands all the time until they get that ability to do stuff. I’ve got new hands now, just like them,” said Joe.

Watch this video report:

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