Man Gets ‘Miracle’ Face Transplant 10 Years After Attempting Suicide

Faces, hands, wombs and even a penis have been transplanted in recent years. Unlike liver or heart transplants, these novel procedures are not life-saving but life-enhancing.

His doctor called it a ‘miracle,’ but for Andy Sandness, a face transplant gave him his life back, 10 years after he’d tried to end it all.

The Mayo Clinic Transplant Center team knows that you want not only a successful transplant but also a healthy, full life afterward. To make that possible, your transplant team works with you to ensure that you return to an active lifestyle once you’ve healed from your transplant surgery. Social workers, transplant coordinators, physical therapists and other transplant team members support you along your post-transplant journey of health.

The Wyoming man, 31, received a face transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last June in a 56-hour operation, according to the Associated Press.

When he was finally allowed to see his new face, three weeks after the surgery, he wrote four words in a spiral notebook and handed it to his doctor Samir Mardini. “Far exceeded my expectations,” Sandness wrote.

A team of 60 surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists worked together on the 56-hour surgery to restore Andrew’s nose, upper and lower jaw, palate, teeth, cheeks, facial muscles, oral mucosa, some of the salivary glands and the skin of the face, which began shortly before midnight Friday and ended early Monday morning. The surgical team used advanced surgical planning technology and 3-D printing to give Andrew the best possible appearance and function with his new face.

“This is an extraordinary example of the teamwork, collaboration, and compassion that we provide at Mayo Clinic, and I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said Dr. Samir Mardini, who led the surgery. “Andy has been our patient for 10 years. He has worked so hard to prepare for this, and during his entire recovery period, he has been strong, gracious and determined. Andy is an amazing person and so well-deserving of this gift.” 

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