Firefighter Pat Hardison has undergone one of the most striking transformations you’ll ever see.
Hardison’s entire face was burned off when he and several other firefighters were responding to a house fire some fifteen years ago when his protective mask melted to his face.
Hardison survived by pulling off his mask and holding his breath until he was able to escape the inferno. However, the damage to his face was done.
According to ABC News:
“[My mask] was melting to my face,” Hardison said. “My hose [was] already melted.”
He pulled the mask off, held his breath and closed his eyes, which doctors say saved his throat and lungs from smoke inhalation damage and from losing his vision. He doesn’t remember exactly how he managed to escape the inferno but by the time he got out, he was unrecognizable.
“There was nothing left of his face to tell you who he was,” said Bricky Cole, one of Hardison’s friends and another volunteer firefighter on-scene that day.
Hardison survived the surgeries to save his life and in 2014 he became a candidate for a face transplant. However, in order for the procedure to work, a donor with a matching skin color, hair color, blood type and skeletal structure had to be found.
In 2015, BMX rider David Rodebaugh passed away in a bike accident and he came up as a near perfect match for Hardison on all accounts.
The surgery was risky and took over 26 hours, but in the end, was a success. The series of photos below show Hardison’s progression over the last few months.
‘I used to get stared at all the time, but now I’m just an average guy,’ said Hardison.
The surgery cost an estimated $1 million, but the cost was covered by NYU Langone. Hardison continues his recovery, but he hopes to be able to get a driver’s license again and live a normal life once he is fully recovered.