Volunteer firefighter Patrick Hardison was seriously burned over his entire face, head, neck and upper torso in 2001. He lost his eyelids, ears, lips, most of his nose, hair and eyebrows. After 70 surgeries, he was still unable to return to his normal life. Hardison was losing his sight and suffering from depression. And then he met Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez.

Dr. Rodriguez and his team at NYU Langone Medical Center gave Hardison a new face.

A year later, the patient and doctor sat down with Perri Peltz on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio (Ch. 111) to share the story of the world’s most extensive face transplant.

“We don’t normally perform operations of that magnitude,” Dr. Rodriguez said, describing the risk of 26 hours under anesthesia.

“Lo and behold on post-operative day 10 as the swelling is going down, he finally opens his eyelids and he can see us.”

Hardison talked about his failing vision and the moment he opened his eyes for the first time post surgery.

“We prepared for this for such a long time,” Dr. Rodriguez said about the complex procedure.

He detailed the experience and noted the teams finished within 10 minutes of their target.

Hardison was told he had a 50-50 chance of surviving the operation, but says he didn’t consider the risk, only the reward.

“I never thought about the odds,” Hardison said. “I guess when you live with something that you dread and you hate daily for 14 years, one day there is a little inkling of hope that you can be better — I’m all in.

“Granted, I would still be alive — but I wasn’t living.”

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for SiriusXM

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