Eleven months after he was facial transplant surgery in New York, Cameron Underwood smiles again.
A 26-year-old man from Yuba, Calif, lost most of his lower jaw, nose, and all but one tooth after he was hit by a self-made shot in June 2016.
After several unsuccessful attempts at traditional facial renewal, Undervaud and his family came to the famous plastic surgeon Dr. Eduardo Rodríguez, Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Head of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Health.
Soon after, Dr. Rodriguez met with Underwood and found that he was a good candidate for facial transplantation.
"When we first met Cameron, we were convinced that we could improve our appearance and, more importantly, his function and quality of life," Dr Rodriguez said on Thursday.
Underwood had to wait six months after he was placed on the organ donation list in July 2017 before he was found the perfect match. Williams Fiscs, a 23-year-old writer and planning director from New York, had registered a donor organ before he died and was selected as a compatible donor, Underwood.
After receiving the permission of the fishermen's family and having received appropriate approvals, Dr. Rodriguez was preparing to lead a surgical group from NYU Langone Health's Third Face Transplant during his career, the second one being widely regarded as the most comprehensive face transplant record, according to the Health Center.
The plastic surgeon said he was optimistic about Endvud's chances of succeeding in a relatively short period of time – just 18 months – from the moment he was injured in the operation.
"Cameron has not lived with his injuries for ten years or more, like most other facial graft recipients," he said. "As a result, he did not have to deal with many long-term psychosocial issues, which often lead to problems like severe depression, drug use and other potentially harmful behavior."
In January, a team from more than 100 healthcare professionals from NYU Langone Health transplanted and reconstructed Underwood's upper and lower jaws, his mouth and all 32 teeth and gums. His nose, shin eyelids and cheeks were replaced during the 25-hour operation.
The surgical team used cutting-edge technology, including 3D imaging and intraoperative CAT scans, to make sure the facial bones are perfectly matched and the plates and screws that donate donors to Underwood are in the right position.
After a successful operation Underwood spent several weeks at the hospital before he was released before the schedule in February. He returned home in California and since then has been to New York for monthly follow-up visits.
On Thursday Undersvētne stood on stage before the audience, which included his red family, showed the results of his surgery almost a year ago. He expressed the opportunity to thank Dr. Rodriguez and his medical team as well as his donor family.
"I want Sally [Fisher’s mother] and her family to find out how much of my family and I appreciate their gift and I always honor his legacy, "he said at a press conference in New York.
Although she was saddened by her son's death, Sally said she was grateful that his decision to become a donor could give Underwood a second chance.
"To be part of this experience, I had a very strong time, being a source of strength. I do not think I would have survived Will's death, if not Cameron," she said in a statement. "Cameron has all his life in front of him – and I like the idea that Willie helps him have a better life."
Despite the impressive results of Underwood, Dr Rodriguez said that his patient still has a lot of work to help his healing process, such as improving his chewing, swallowing and speaking. He will continue to use anti-rejection drugs in the rest of his life so that his body does not abandon his new face.
Even if his recovery path is not over, Underwood said he is still positive and looking forward to the future. He also took the time to praise Dr Rodriguez for his efforts.
"He did such a good job, I can use my old ID," he asked the local news agency WCBS after a press conference.