Joe Dimio suffered serious burns in a car accident. He says the operations at the New York Medical Center will give him a second chance.
Doctors in New York performed the world’s first two-handed face and transplant.
Joe Dimio, 22, underwent 23 hours of surgery. The surgery was performed by a team of more than 140 professionals last August.
In a car accident in 2018, 80% of Dimeo’s body suffered third degree burns. His finger was amputated and his lips and eyelids were lost.
He said the operation gave him a second chance in life.
Dimeo, who was coming home after work at night, was sleeping on the wheel. His car crashed and exploded.
He spent four months in a burn treatment unit, which included an induced coma. He later underwent more than 20 reconstructive surgeries, but only limited use of his hands and face has recovered.
In 2019, he was referred to an academic medical center in NUU Lancon, New York, where he underwent transplant surgery last August.
“Not only is it an operation that will help make him better, but ultimately, it will work better, especially by hand,” explained Eduardo Rodriguez, the hospital’s facial transplant program director.
Dimio spent 45 days in the ICU after surgery and two more months in the hospital, where he had to learn to open his eyelids and use new hands.
Both face and hand transplants have already been performed, but both have not been successful. The hospital said one patient died of complications and another had his hands removed after failing to develop.
The hospital doctors waited to make sure there were no complications before the transplant was considered successful.
Rodriguez says Dimio, who rehabilitates for up to five hours a day, is the most motivated patient he has ever seen.
“He wants to play sports, he likes to play golf, and he wants to get back on the field. The weight he can lift and the quality of his grip strength has always fascinated me,” he added.
Dimeo says he can now train alone and prepare breakfast.
“It’s a special gift in life, and I hope you can comfort yourself by realizing that part of it (the donor ‘) family lives with me,” he said. “My parents and I are very grateful for this second opportunity.”