The first African American man to undergo a complete face transplant is now recuperating following a successful operation. This comes after months of waiting for the perfect donor to become available before the procedure.

After being on the face transplant waiting list for a year and a half, Robert Chelsea, who is 68 years old, has finally had the procedure in July. In May of 2018, he was presented with the opportunity to have a donor face; but, since the skin tone of the donor face was so much lighter than his own, he was apprehensive to accept it. In an interview with TIME, Chelsea expressed her concern that he will soon be “a completely different looking person.”

In 2013, Chelsea was seriously scarred as a result of being struck by a drunk driver. This event has made Chelsea’s life very challenging over the last several years. In the course of his year and a half spent in the hospital, he endured thirty operations; nonetheless, the medical professionals were unable to rebuild his lips, a portion of his nose, or his left ear. Because he did not have lips, eating and drinking were difficult for Chelsea. In order to prevent food or water from falling out of his mouth, he had to tilt his head back when he drank any of these things.

In spite of the fact that it would be difficult to find a suitable replacement for a new face, Chelsea was content to wait for the ideal fit. Just seventeen percent of African American patients who were in need of an organ transplant obtained one in the year 2015, which is a much lower percentage than the thirty percent of white patients who were able to find a donor. There is a shortage of black donors of any kind.

In a statement that was issued by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which was the institution that carried out Chelsea’s transplant, Alexandra Glazier, President and Chief Executive Officer of New England Donor Services, stated that “it is vitally important for individuals of all races and ethnicities to consider organ donation, including the donation of external grafts, such as face and hands.” It is possible that the skin tone of the donor is more essential than the internal organs when it comes to finding a match.

He was a 62-year-old guy with a skin tone that was almost similar to Chelsea’s, and he passed away unexpectedly in July of 2019. Chelsea finally found his match.

As Chelsea said to TIME, “I can’t even begin to fathom the experience of losing a loved one and being asked something like this.” “I would like to express my optimism that I will be able to reassemble some of the pieces that the family may have lost.”

As a result of a 16-hour operation that took place at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and required the participation of more than 45 medical professionals, Chelsea became the first African American to undergo a complete face transplant. She was also the fifteenth person in the United States to do so.

After just 10 days, Chelsea was able to eat, communicate, and breathe on his own. His recovery was exceptionally rapid. Now, he wants to raise awareness about the significance of organ donation and urge more people to participate in the process via his charitable organization, Donor’s Dream.

The statement that he made was, “I was concerned about humanity long before this surgery.” Helping one another is a need. The way I felt was exactly the same, and this event has simply served to reaffirm that feeling even more.

in this point, Chelsea is still in need of more healing, and she has been receiving follow-up treatment in the hospital. But he is doing quite well.

According to a statement that he released, he is quoted as saying, “This experience has been an incredible journey for me, filled at times with many challenges.” The great team of physicians and personnel at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the love and support of my family and friends, and my everlasting faith have all contributed to my progress toward recovery. Today, however, I am overjoyed to announce that I am on the path to recovery.

By Anna

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