Face Transplant Program

Our surgeons recently performed the most extensive face transplant to date and the first in New York State.

A team at NYU Langone Medical Center, led by Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, recently performed the most complex and comprehensive face transplant to date in a 26-hour surgery beginning the morning of August 14, 2015. The recipient was a first responder, 41-year-old Patrick Hardison of Senatobia, Mississippi, who experienced extensive facial burns in September 2001 in the line of duty as a volunteer firefighter.

Face Transplant: A Team Approach

More than 100 physicians, nurses, technical staff, and support staff collaborated on this procedure at NYU Langone, led by Dr. Rodriguez, chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez and Face Transplant Team

A team of more than 100 specialists performed the face transplant at NYU Langone.

“When I met Patrick and heard his story, I knew that I had to do all I could to help him—and every member of my team felt the same way,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “His surgery sets new standards in facial transplantation and will serve as an amazing learning tool. We could not have helped Patrick without amazing teamwork.”

Rebuilding a Life

VIDEO: Watch Patrick Hardison’s journey before and after his face transplant in August 2015.

Patrick was injured in September 2001 in Mississippi—coincidentally, just days before the 9/11 attacks. After he entered a burning home on a rescue search, the roof collapsed on him, leaving him with disfiguring burns across his entire face, head, neck, and upper torso. He lost his eyelids, ears, lips, and most of his nose, as well as his hair, including his eyebrows.

After more than 70 previous surgeries, Patrick was referred to Dr. Rodriguez and was evaluated for a face transplant. Dr. Rodriguez was then recruited to NYU Langone to lead a department, develop the Face Transplant Program, and train a team of experts while Patrick remained under his care. 

After more than a year of preparation for the procedure, Dr. Rodriguez and his team were able to give Patrick a new face, scalp, ears and ear canals, and selected portions of bone from the chin, cheeks, and entire nose. He also received new eyelids and the muscles that control blinking, as he was previously unable to close his eyes completely.

Patrick Hardison Before and After

Patrick Hardison before surgery (left) and in November 2015, nearly three months after the surgery

Just three months after the surgery, Patrick is doing well and is quickly returning to his daily routines. He will continue to have extensive rehabilitation therapy to improve his strength and speech.

“I am deeply grateful to my donor and his family,” Patrick says. “Even though I did not know who they would be, I prayed for them every day, knowing the difficult decision they would have to make in order to help me. I hope they see in me the goodness of their decision. I also want to thank Dr. Rodriguez and his amazing team. They have given me more than a new face. They have given me a new life.”

About the Procedure

Watch an animation of the face transplant procedure.

Learn more about preparing for the surgery, the operation, and Patrick’s recovery.

Support Our Program

Learn about how you can support NYU Langone’s Face Transplant Program.

Our Leadership

  • Eduardo D. Rodriguez, MD, DDS
    Program Director and Chair | Plastic Surgery

    Dr. Rodriguez performed his first face transplant in 2012. When he joined the faculty of NYU Langone in November 2013 as chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, one of his goals was to develop and launch a facial transplantation program. To perform this most extensive face transplant to date, he led a team of physicians, nurses, and staff and educated them on the intricacies of facial transplantation. The team includes experts in plastic surgery, anesthesiology, critical care, emergency services, nursing, ophthalmology, perioperative services, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, radiology, and social work.

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