ROCHESTER, Minn. — A man from Wyoming has received a groundbreaking transplant surgery - a completely new face.
Ten years ago, Andy Sandness attempted suicide, shooting himself in the face. Rushed to the hospital, he miraculously survived but was left with life-changing injuries, without a nose, chin or most of the flesh below his eyes.
"You know what? I was stupid, I made the wrong choice and now I'm paying for it for the rest of my life," said Andy.
Last June, he was given a groundbreaking opportunity to get a new face via transplant. A donor was found, Kaylin Ross, who, like Andy, had turned a weapon on himself at the age of 21.
A team of specialists, led by Dr. Samir Mardini, had been practicing the face transplant technique for three years, rehearsing the full operation more than 30 times.
"A face transplantation is a combination of so many other procedures that we do, including eyelid surgery, jaw surgery, facial nerve surgery," said Mardini.
It involved mapping and preserving an intricate web on nerves on both Andy and the donor's face. The high-risk surgery lasted for a full 56-hours, with surgeons taking shifts, and then a few weeks of recovery.
Andy's new facial features completely restored, but not the ones he was born with. His life, half-a-year later, is now transformed.
"I was absolutely blown away by the results. I just feel like a new person, walking around outside, going to shopping malls, nobody asks any questions, nobody stares, I feel like another face in the crowd, now with the transplant, I just feel more comfortable and more confident doing these things," he sai.d
Any continues going to speech therapy and will be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life.