THIS is what ‘getting your life back’ looks like.
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.
…The exchange came near the end of an extraordinary medical journey that revolved around two young men who tried to kill themselves 10-years apart and 500 miles away.
Both were rugged outdoorsmen and both just 21 when, overcome by demons, they decided to kill themselves: One, Sandness, survived but with a face almost destroyed by a gunshot; the other man died.
Their paths wouldn’t converge for years, but when they did – in side-by-side operating rooms – one man’s tragedy offered hope that the other would have a second chance at a normal life.
It was two days before Christmas in 2006 when Andy Sandness reached a breaking point.
[after pulling the trigger] Instantly, he knew he’d made a terrible mistake. When the police arrived, an officer who was a friend cradled him in his arms as Sandness begged, ‘Please, please don’t let me die! I don’t want to die!’
This is his reaction to the final result.
Here is his personal story. Helluva guy.
Read the full account of his story here.