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31-year-old man regains life after 'miraculous' face transplant

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Andy Sandness has successful face transplant 10 years after attempted tragedy.

After ten years, a 60-person medical team, and a 56-hour surgery, 31-year-old Andy Sandness received the first steps into truly getting his life back.

Highlights

By Marissa Lay (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
2/20/2017 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: face transplant, medical miracle, miracle, suicide, Andy Sandness

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In 2006, a very depressed and unhappy Andy felt his life was over. He took a rifle from his closet, put the barrel under his chin and pulled the trigger.

Andy states he knew instantly he made the biggest mistake of his life.

"Please, please don't let me die! I don't want to die!" he begged the police officers who arrived on the scene of his attempted suicide.

Andy was treated at two different hospitals before arriving at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he met plastic surgeon, Dr. Samir Mardini.

Andy Sandness, 31, receives face transplant


"I just need you to be strong and patient," Dr. Mardini told Andy, explaining he would fix his face the best he could.

After eight surgeries over four-and-a-half months, Andy could return home and go back to work.

But Andy was not himself anymore.

He explained how he avoided eye contact with young children so he wouldn't scare them and how he had no social life.

"Those were real tough times for him," Andy's father, Reed, told the Associated Press. "He was insecure."

In 2012, Mardini informed Andy the Mayo Clinic had plans of launching a face transplant program, and he may be perfect for it.

Andy had to go through serious and intense psychiatric and social work evaluation to determine if this was right for him and he was good for the program. Factoring in his family's support, his motivation, and the time since his attempted suicide, he was officially added to the Organ Sharing waiting list in January 2016.


"He wasn't rushing us, and we weren't rushing him," Dr. Hatem Amer, Mayo's medical director of reconstructive transplantation, told AP. "He really understood what he was embarking upon."

In just five months, a donor became available. Calen "Rudy" Ross fatally shot himself.

His grieving pregnant widow, Lily carried out her husband's wish to become an organ donor.

Although initially hesitant on donating his face because she didn't want to walk around and see her husband, Lily went forward with the donation after being assured Andy would not look like Calen.

After 24 hours of procuring the donor's face and another 32 hours of rebuilding it to Andy's face, Andy Sandness was able to become just another face in the crowd... a thought that makes him smile.

We must pray for the soul of this man, because though he has received such a beatiful and "miraculous" gift, he did attempt to commit suicide.

The Catechism teaches us:

"2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him.
It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life.
We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls.
We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us.
It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life.
It is gravely contrary to the just love of self.
It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations.
Suicide is contrary to love for the living God."

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