It has been a little over a year since Lilly Ross agreed to let doctors use her late husband’s face in a facial transplant after he committed suicide – and now, after seeing the results, she is glad she did.
Andy Sandness, another man who had tried to take his own life, had been living in shame of the misshapen face that he was left with as a result of his attempted suicide 10 years ago. Then, in 2016, doctors found him a match for a facial transplant.
Thanks to a 56-hour surgery at Mayo Clinic, he now wears the face of Lilly’s high school sweetheart, Calen Ross.
Having had his image restored to normalcy, Andy says that he has never been happier.
“I wouldn’t go out in public. I hated going into bigger cities,” said Andy, according to ABC News. “And now I’m just really spreading my wings and doing the things I missed out on; going out to restaurants and eating, going dancing.”
Coincidentally, Andy and Rudy did not just share the same mental health issues and enjoy the same hobbies – they also were so genetically similar, doctors say that they could have been cousins. Andy is also the first patient to ever undergo such a surgery at the clinic.
The clinic orchestrated a meeting between Lilly and the recipient of her husband’s visage this week. Though they both were nervous about the strange circumstances, their introduction was extremely cathartic for both of them.
“I wanted to show you that your gift will not be wasted,” Andy told Lilly.
Lilly and Andy plan on becoming closer during the coming years since he is now “basically family”. He also plans on contributing to a trust fund for Lilly and Rudy’s 18-month-old son Leonard.
“Meeting Andy, it has finally given me closure,” says Lilly. “It made me proud.”
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