Robert Chelsea Just Becomes first African American to receive a full facial transplant At 68 years old

African American Robert Chelsea just got a new face, and with it, he is the latest milestone in the burgeoning world of facial transplant surgery.

He is the first African American to receive a full facial transplant, with a successful surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. A black patient in Paris received a partial face transplant in 2007.

At 68 years old, he’s the oldest person to undergo the surgery as well.

“It’s a great wonder,” Chelsea told CNN in a phone interview on Friday. “This whole process gave me a whole new dimension on seeing myself.”

After the standard three months of monitoring in Boston after the procedure, Chelsea just returned home to Los Angeles. He’s the 15th facial transplant patient in the US.

“Despite being the oldest face transplant patient at 68, Robert is progressing and recovering remarkably fast,” lead surgeon Bohdan Pomahac said in a press release.

In August 2013, Chelsea was driving to church in the fast lane on a summer night when his car overheated. He was on the side of the Interstate when a drunken driver collided with his vehicle.

“My car went up in the air, and when it came down, it blew up,” he said. The inferno burned Chelsea severely.

“They laid me on a gurney, and I closed my eyes to rest, Chelsea said. “When I woke up, it was six months later.”.

After waking up from a coma, he spent another nine months in the hospital. He was released in November 2014 after undergoing more than 30 surgeries.

But his lips, part of his nose, and left ear were unable to be reconstructed.

So, he lived with a disfigured face. His business suffered, and many of his friends drifted away. For years after his accident, eating and drinking were difficult.

“I look like a Halloween mask,” he said. “But there’s no shame in that.”

In public, people often recoiled when they saw him, but he says he remembered the Biblical admonition, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

"Kids often get shocked," he said. "But it's not a criticism at all. It's natural."

But he had an unquenchable faith for a better future.

Robert Chelsea Just Becomes first African American to receive a full facial transplant At 68 years old

Leave a Reply