26-Year-Old Suicide Survivor Reveals New Face After Undergoing Face Transplant in January

Cameron Underwood is the latest person to reveal the results of a face transplant, meeting with the press on Thursday to talk about his journey after sustaining a self-inflicted gunshot wound in June 2016.

CNN reports that Underwood was missing most of his lower jaw, all of his teeth sans one and all of his nose and though the Californian had tried reconstructive surgery, the procedures could only do so much.

Beverly Bailey-Potter, Underwood's mother, read a magazine article about Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez and his success with face transplants.

Rodriguez, chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery and Helen L. Kimmel Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at NYU's Langone Health, had performed two other face transplants, one in 2015 for a volunteer firefighter Patrick Hardison and one in 2017 for 22-year-old Katie Stubblefield.

Hardison was injured in an accident when the roof of a burning house fell on him during a call, while Stubblefield, like Underwood, sustained a self-inflicted gunshot. Coincidentally, Hardison and Stubblefield lived approximately 50 miles apart in Mississippi.

For Underwood, his surgery and recovery have been marked by several milestones. From the time of his injury to surgery lasted about 18 months, the shortest period known for any of the 40-plus face transplants performed worldwide.

"Cameron has not lived with his injury for a decade or longer like most other face transplant recipients have," Rodriguez said in the statement from Langone Health. "As a result, he has not had to deal with many of the long-term psycho-social issues which often lead to issues like severe depression, substance abuse, and other potentially harmful behaviors."

Underwood's donor, 23-year-old William Fisher, arrived about six months after he was approved for surgery.

Fisher, a resident of New York, was an aspiring filmmaker and writer. He had registered to donate his organs as a teenager and donated his eyes, kidneys, liver and other tissues to other patients in addition to Underwood.

Knowing that made the loss easier to bear, Fisher's mother, Sally Fisher, said.

"Being a part of this experience has been a source of strength for me during a very difficult time. I don't think I would have survived Will's death if not for Cameron. Cameron has his whole life ahead of him — and I love the idea that Willie is helping him have a better life," Sally said in the hospital's statement.

Sally and Underwood met on January 4, a few days after Fisher died and shortly after he was determined to be an "ideal donor" for Underwood.

"Thank God for you. I'm so happy for you. ...Thank you. Thank you for letting my son live on," Sally told Underwood and Bailey-Potter in a video released by the hospital.

The next day, Underwood had surgery and spent just under two months in the hospital. However, he stayed in New York to undergo therapy.

Underwood moved back to California in March but still makes monthly trips back to New York. He will also take anti-injection drugs for the rest of his life.

"It's important to share my story to help inspire others to have hope and seek help," Underwood said Thursday during a press conference.