Patrick’s life was great until the terrible day in 2001.He had been a volunteer fireman before, so when he was asked to help put out a fire in a house, he didn’t think twice.
Sad to say, it fell down as soon as he got close to the fire, pinning him. He could not move because his face and chest were badly burned.
“[My mask] was melting to my face,” Patrick said. “My hose had melted already.”
“For someone who does what we do for a living, I’ve never seen someone who was that badly burned and still alive,” Jimmy Neal, Patrick’s friend and a first responder, told CBS News.
Patrick got third-degree burns on his face and head. He was also burned on his head, neck, and upper chest. The fire burned away his ears, lips, most of his nose, and even most of the skin on his eyes.
“I didn’t see myself until November, most likely. “In September, I hurt myself,” Patrick told Fox News. “They cut a tiny hole in one of my eyelids because everything else was covered with skin graft. When I looked in the mirror, I could only say, “Is this it?” I’m not able to do this,'” he remembered.
This man had to have more than 70 surgeries and other treatments over the years. He couldn’t close his eyes, and even though doctors were able to put flaps of skin together to protect his vision, he still had a chance of getting blind.
Patrick was in terrible pain and couldn’t eat. He couldn’t even look at himself in the mirror, so he couldn’t get used to his new life. People looked at him everywhere he went, and he couldn’t stand to be around anyone, not even his own kids.
Patrick wore a baseball cap and shades a lot to protect himself and look like everyone else. He also has ears that aren’t real.”I was a parent. Just put, it was a hard time. After I hurt myself, I never had a day off. When you go outside, it happens every day. “There’s just no way to explain it all,” he told Yahoo! Sports.
“When you go to the baseball pitch, you need to be ready for the kid who runs away screaming.”
Patrick gave up on being able to live a normal life as time passed. But after her pet dog badly scarred her face, a French woman named Isabelle Dinoire had to have a part of her face replaced. This method broke new ground. It was the first time that ever happened. It definitely gave Patrick, who was really suffering at the time, a glimmer of hope.
When Patrick called Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez at the NYU Langone Medical Centre in New York, he told him that he would do the transplant if a good donor could be found. Even though it wasn’t always easy, a giver showed up out of the blue one day. There was a match.
David Rodebaugh, who was 26 and had been declared brain dead after getting a serious head injury in a bike accident, was about to get on Patrick’s bike.
Nancy Millar, the young man’s mother, made the decision to give away all of her son’s parts, including his face. “I told him, ‘Save his face. His face is like a china doll. We had talked about him being a donor,” Millar said.
The idea that someone would get her son’s face meant that David would live on in the lives he was about to save, including Patrick’s.
“When I met Patrick, I saw in him the same kind of strength, power, and manliness that David had,” Nancy said.
“David wanted to be a firefighter, and I knew that if this guy was a firefighter and was willing to walk into a fire to save people and risk his own life, then he was as strong as David.”
It was finally time for the transplant surgery. The surgery took 26 hours and was done by 100 experts working together.
Because the risk was so high, Patrick had a 50/50 chance of making it. Luckily, it went off without a hitch. Patrick had to get a new face, scalp, ears, and ear tubes. He also got eyelids, which allowed him to blink properly and kept his sight.
“Everything in life has some kind of risk,” Patrick said.
“When it’s your time to go, you’ll go, whether you’re walking down the street and getting hit by a car or on the operating table.”
Once the swelling went down and Patrick could talk and drink again, he met his donor’s mother. She just wanted Patrick to kiss her on the face.
“I asked if I could kiss your head.” Nancy told me. “That was the one thing I wanted to do because, when David was little, I kissed his forehead every night before he went to bed.”
“I have been waiting for her for a year. I’m just very thankful,” added Patrick. “It couldn’t have happened without her. It’s as if she were a relative. We got along that well.”
Patrick is doing well, even though he has been taking medicine to stop his immune system from rejecting the face since the surgery. He not only changed his appearance but also started a new life.
He is now divorced and writing a book that he hopes will give hope to people who feel like they can’t get out of their situation. “Because I want to show everyone that there is hope. I wouldn’t want people who used to be like me to think, “Well, that’s it, I have to live this way.” Not at all. Patrick tells them, “You can do anything.”
The fact that he lived and got better is called a miracle. Patrick is a happy man today because of Nancy, Dr. Rodriguez and his team, and his strong will.
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