A 42-year-old firefighter from Senatobia, Patrick Hardison, suffered severe facial burns after he responded to a house fire back in 2001. As a result, he lost his eyelids, hair, lips, and even his nose. Whenever he wanted to go out, he covered his face with a baseball cap and wore sunglasses.

Hardison has gotten a chance to be normal after undergoing the most extensive face transplant ever recorded in history. “I would like to say that I am the same old Pat, and that doesn’t even give enough credit to the incredible journey I’ve gone through over this past year,” Hardison said during a news conference on Wednesday.

“After the accident, my life became hard. I hated myself,” “I am standing here today because I want people to see that there is always hope beyond injury. I am proud to share my story with firefighters, first responders and even US military personnel who have suffered injury. I hope sharing my story helps at least one person consider the possibility of a face transplant. I am filled with hope now, and want to help injured people know that there is still hope for them, too.”

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez along with his team of over 100 surgeons performed Harrison’s extraordinary surgery at the New York University Medical Center. Since the year 2005, over 20 patients have gotten partial or full soft tissue face transplants at various institutions around the globe.

The team gave Hardison the face of a 26-year-old Brooklyn bike mechanic, Mike Rodebaugh, who was declared brain dead after a fatal bicycle accident. Hardison was given a new face, new scalp, new ears and even ear canals. He was also given selected portions of bone from the cheeks, chin, and entire nose. He was given new eyelids, and the muscles responsible for controlling blinking was replaced. His eyelid surgery marked the very first eyelid transplant.