Bioethics News

Face transplant in an American firefighter. Ethical assessment and a brief historical review

By far the most extensive performed successfully

Patrick Hardison is a 41-year-old former American firefighter who suffered facial burns while trying to save the life of a woman in a fire. The burns resulted in severe facial disfigurement, causing him major problems with vision, breathing and eating, and of course, his aesthetic image, which made social relationships difficult. The possibility of resolving those problems therefore seemed highly advisable for compelling quality-of-life reasons.

The 26-hour surgery took place on 15th August 2015, and involved more than 100 professionals. It was performed in Langone Medical Center in New York, led by Dr. Eduardo D. Rodríguez. The operation not only gave the patient a new face, it also gave him a new scalp, ears, ear canals, part of the chin bones, cheekbones, a whole nose and new eyelids, even the muscles that control blinking.

Before this latest surgery, Mr. Hardison had undergone more than 70 operations, which, apart from that mentioned above, gives some indication of the patient’s poor quality of life, and was undoubtedly a critical factor in the decision to perform the transplant.

The most recent reports on 17th November state that the patient has progressed well and is gradually resuming his usual daily routines. Nevertheless, he will have to continue rehabilitation to improve the strength of his facial muscles and speech, and of course, like most transplant patients, will have to take immunosuppressive therapy for life, so that the transplant is not rejected.

by coincidence the donor had wanted to be a firefighter.

By coincidence the face donor had wanted to be a firefighter.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.