A face transplant recipient has hailed the procedure a massive success ten years after a failed suicide bid.
Andy Sandness, 31, from Wyoming, USA, had the bandages taken off to see the new face he owns and said the rare operation at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota “far exceeded my expectations”.
Dr Samir Mardini, who led the team, said: “You don’t know how happy that makes us feel.”
Mr Sandness’ father and his brother, joined doctors and nurses as he examined his swollen features.
His face belonged to Calen Ross, a 21-year-old father-to-be who had fatally shot himself last summer.
It took 24 hours to “procure” Mr Ross’ face, including removing bone, muscle, skin and nerves, and a similar amount of time to prepare Mr Sandness.
Medics then rebuilt his face below the eyes.
Two days before Christmas in 2006, a deeply depressed Mr Sandness put a rifle beneath his chin and pulled the trigger.
Instantly, he knew he’d made a terrible mistake. When police arrived, he begged: “Please, please don’t let me die!”
After the bandages were unwrapped, Mr Sandness said he felt blessed to now have a nose and mouth and that “the looks are a bonus”.
He said he is happy to once again be able to eat steak and pizza, and recently attended an ice hockey game, saying he was “just another face in the crowd.”