Sometimes life throws us for a bit of a loop, but when we have family and friends to support us, we can usually weather through the storm. Sadly, 26-year-old welder Cameron Underwood couldn’t see a way out of the dark hole he had fallen into, and even though had a loving family backing him, he made the heartbreaking decision to end it all by attempting to take his own life.
After he shot himself in the face, the final page of Cameron’s journey on this earthly realm should have been closed for good. But, a higher power stepped in to save the young adult, creating a brand new story to live by. However, Cameron still had to “face” the consequences of his past decisions. As a result of his devastating injuries because of the incident, he lost his nose, most of his lower jaw, and only one tooth remained.
Thankfully Cameron survived his terrible ordeal, but the California native found very little success at rectifying his more compelling problems. He had little luck with conventional plastic surgery methods, so he reached out to Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, from NYU Langone Health in New York, for a more permanent solution. At a press conference that was held in New York City, Cameron stated:
“I am so grateful to have a face transplant because it gives me a second chance at life. Even though I’m still recovering and gaining back sensation and mobility, mostly with my lips, I’m still very happy with the results. I have a nose, and a mouth so I’m able to smile, to speak and eat solid foods again.”
This past January, Cameron went through a grueling facial transplant procedure. However, due to the recovery time, he didn’t make a public appearance until recently.
The operation was incredibly complex, and took the combined efforts of over 100 medical professionals from a variety of fields to make it happen. They spent more than 25 hours working on Cameron before they were satisfied with the results.
“For all of us it’s really remarkable to be a part of this and make this happen,” Dr. Rodriguez corroborated. “There’s no way we could have ever taken him back to a normal life without a face transplant.”
As we know, there’s always the saddening, unspoken reality behind most transplant procedures. Someone else had to pass away in order for them to donate their face to Cameron.
He waited for six months to find the perfect match, who ended up being a 23-year-old named William Fisher. The aspiring writer and filmmaker, who fought a long battle with mental illness, took his last breath on New Year’s Eve. William’s mother, Sally, was honored to grant her son’s final wish and help others in need.
“I am thankful that, in honoring his decision, we were able to give life to others, and especially that Will and Dr. Rodriguez have given Cameron and his family a chance to recapture their dreams. 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.”
During his speech at the press conference, Cameron paid tribute to both Will and his family:
“I want Sally and her family to know how much my family and I appreciate their gift and I’ll always honor Will’s legacy. I’d like to say that there have been so many amazing advances in surgery. I’m living proof of that. But it only happens because of special people like Will and his family.”
Cameron never could have imagined that attempting to take his own life would actually help another man continue to live on. The valuable lessons he learned about gratitude and the will to survive now serve as a beacon of light for those who may still find themselves trapped in their own dark night of the soul.
Watch this video to see the tearful reunion between Cameron and the donor’s mother.