- First allowed to see his new face three weeks after the operation and said it ‘far exceeded my expectations’
- His new face once belonged to 21-year-old father-to-be, Calen Ross – who killed himself in June of 2016
- The entire medical procedure to transplant the face took the 60-strong team at the Mayo Clinic 56-hours
- Sandness tried to take his own life before Christmas in 2006 with a gun and instantly regretted his decision
- Now he enjoys ‘being just another face in the crowd’ at hockey games and can enjoy eating pizza again
He’d been waiting for this day, and when his doctor handed him the mirror, Andy Sandness stared at his image and absorbed the enormity of the moment: He had a new face, one that had belonged to another man.
His father and his brother, joined by several doctors and nurses at Mayo Clinic, watched as he studied his swollen features.
He was just starting to heal from one of the rarest surgeries in the world – a face transplant, the first at the medical center. He had the nose, cheeks, mouth, lips, jaw, chin, even the teeth of his donor.
Resting in his hospital bed, he still couldn’t speak clearly, but he had something to say.
He scrawled four words in a spiral notebook: ‘Far exceeded my expectations,’ he wrote, handing it to Dr. Samir Mardini, who read the message to the group.
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Staggering transformation: Face transplant recipient Andy Sandness attends a speech therapy appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on January 27 – seven months after his face transplant operation was hailed a success