News & Events

New York's First Face Transplant

11-03-2015

On August 12th, the family of David Rodebaugh made a decision that would forever transform the life of Patrick Hardison. They chose donation.


Patrick Hardison is a firefighter who was burned so severely while responding to a house fire that his face was no longer recognizable or functioning operatively. He longed for a better life, and courageously embarked on a journey for a face
transplant, fully understanding there was a 50-50 chance of survival. After waiting months, Patrick received the call.
The donor, David Rodebaugh, by all accounts, was a charismatic, creative and caring individual. Ironically, David had
a dream to someday be a firefighter. So, when tragedy struck and the opportunity to help a firefighter was presented,
the Rodebaughs said yes and donated David’s face.


That day, David, who was a registered organ donor, not only changed Patrick’s life forever, he also gave the gift of life to two kidney recipients, a heart recipient and a liver recipient. His donation of bone, saphenous veins and eyes saved and improved the lives of several tissue recipients. David also donated organs and tissue to medical research. Donation and transplantation starts with a selfless donor like David, and a supportive family like the Rodebaughs. Donation cannot happen, however, without the hard work and collaboration of many. In the case of Patrick’s remarkable face transplant, professionals from Kings County Hospital Center (the donor hospital), the New York City Medical Examiner’s office, LiveOnNY and NYU Langone Medical Center all contributed in important ways. In particular, NYU, led by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez and his team, planned for years to make the first-ever face transplant in New York possible.


The 26-hour procedure by Dr. Rodriquez and his team represent the culmination of years of preparation at NYU Langone Medical Center, with support from LiveOnNY. At its core, every organ donation case is about collaboration, training and execution on the part of several teams, to realize the selfless wishes of the donor and donor family. When this trailblazing transplant was performed in New York that summer day, every one of these principles was on display at the highest level.
Today, Patrick is doing very well, and overflowing with gratitude to David Rodebaugh and his family. At the same time, the Rodebaughs proudly stand by their decision knowing that helping a firefighter in need is something David would have most certainly wanted.

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