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Patrick Hardison, 42, dreamed of watching his kids’ baseball games without their parents whispering and pointing their fingers as they comforted their crying boys who were startled by his badly disfigured face.
After undergoing the largest face transplant ever performed in 2016, Hardison returned to his Mississippi family to start his new life for over a decade after suffering extensive facial burns to his head, neck and torso in a house had fire to which he responded as a volunteer firefighter. The fire also claimed his ears, lips, most of his nose, and most of his eyelid tissue.
“I probably didn’t see each other until November. I was injured in September,” Hardison said Sean Hannity in an exclusive interview with Fox News on Monday.
“They cut a small hole in one of my eyelids because everything was covered, a skin graft. I looked in the mirror and said all I could do, ‘that’s it? I can’t do this,'” he recalled.
Despite 71 surgeries and various interventions, Hardison said he found it difficult to accept his new deformities.
“I had children. It was just a tough time. I never had a day off from the injury. When you go out in public, it was daily. And you know, it’s just like that – there is no way to explain everything. ” he said.
“You go to the ball court, you have to prepare for the child who runs away screaming.”
Just as he was beginning to lose hope, a friend of his ran into Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez of NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, who was known to have done another face transplant of this type.
Rodriguez assembled a team of 100 doctors, nurses, and medical assistants to perform the largest soft tissue face transplant ever recorded.
The operation lasted 26 hours and stretched from the top of his head over his skull to the front collarbones. Even then, the married father of five children was only given a 50:50 chance of survival.
Rodriguez and his team were able to give Hardison a new face, scalp, ears and ear canals as well as selected bone areas of the chin, cheeks and the entire nose.
He also got new eyelids and was able to blink naturally again.
Five years after his historic recovery, Hardison hopes to deliver a message of hope and perseverance to others struggling with debilitating injuries.
“I bought my own apartment and am working on building a house. I’m working on a book, ”he told Hannity. “Because I want to show the world that you can have hope. I don’t want people who were like me years ago to think that’s it, I have to live like this. You don’t. You can achieve anything.” , he said.
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“You know your courage will now help other people,” Hannity remarked.
“I hope so,” replied Hardison. “I mean, that’s what I want to do. I want to help – 22 veterans commit suicide a day. 97% of people who have facial injuries as severe as mine commit suicide and I understand that, “he said,” but you have no hope either. They think, ‘You know, I have to live like this – but you don’t. There is hope for anyone out there who has this type of injury. “