Eight years ago, Robert Chelsea sustained third-degree burns on more than half of his body when his car was hit by a drunk driver. In 2019, he became the first-ever African American recipient of a full-face transplant.
68-year old Robert Chelsea was the first-ever African American and the oldest to receive a full face transplant surgery. This story starts on August 5th, when the accident occurred. He was driving on the freeway. His car was overheating. Smoke was coming from the radiator area. He managed to go over to the shoulder of the freeway. He noticed a drunk driver in a truck swerving over and it ran straight into him. And then all of a sudden the car blew up. Boom!! And it seemed like he was going through a long tunnel of fire. Once they rolled him into the gurney, he was unconscious. And he stayed that way until 6 months later.
When he woke up, the doctor told him that he was burned over 75 per cent of his body, mostly upper body. He had lost his lips and a part of his ear and nose. ‘Can you imagine having no lips? And your mouth being opened all the time? When you walk-and don't try to run. Flies and everything just gets into your mouth?’ He said.
After several years, a face transplant was introduced into his medical conversation. But they didn’t know how rare it was to find a black face. But they had finally found one. And 6 months after the transplant, he is doing very well.
This is the story of a man that would have had to walk around with a completely burned face and still found hope. This goes to show you that when life knocks you down, you get back up.
By: Abhi Misra