• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

2nd U.S. face transplant a success

May 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Doctors in Mass. have reported success with the nation's second face transplant.A month after surgery, large scars run down both of James Maki's cheeks, but all he sees in a chance to start his life again.

"I appreciate that I have a chance to start a new life. Because the first part of my life was nothing but trouble so I'm glad that I can start over," said Maki.

An electrical accident at a railway station in 2005 left Maki horribly burned. He lost his nose, upper lip and cheeks. During a 17-hour surgery, three dozen doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital gave him a new face.

"He is a pioneer for allowing us all to learn from this new form of organ transplantation," said Dr. Elof Eriksson.

"Jim has a little bit of swelling and a little bit of excess tissue that could be trimmed," said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, plastic surgeon.

Maki is one of only a handful of people to receive a facial transplant. Earlier this month Isabelle Dinoire visited him. She's the French woman who received the first one nearly five years ago. Seeing her transformation made him feel good. As for his new face, he says it looks familiar.

"My first thought was my nose looks the same as my old nose," said Maki.

One difference: some stubble on his chin. That comes from his donor, Susan Helfgot's late husband.

"I am elated. I'm elated that someone else can get a chance to live," said Helfgot.

Maki could only say thank you.

"I will be forever grateful," said Maki.

Before the surgery Maki says he was fearful of going outside where he was often ridiculed. Now he looks forward to leaving the hospital and moving on with his life.

Report Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts | Most Popular
Follow @abc7 on Twitter  |  Become a fan on Facebook


Load Comments