Full Episode: Friday, November 16, 2018
Cam was a very handsome. Handsome, boy, Levy says turn which sadly that was all about to change cried every day for a year every single for sun, barely surviving gunshot blast to the face. They said there was nothing. Like, they said his face was dust assault the hospital. Just how do you go in and look at your son? There's nothing but tonight on an all new twenty twenty. There is something lucked help in the form of a complete stranger a strangers face face transplant. You know, can they actually what is a face transplant? My first reaction like what own son dies. She makes the unimaginable sacrifice to save. Another mother, son. It was a one in a billion match. If he and you have something that somebody else to news, why wouldn't you shave? And I just thought he can get this face. You have no idea what this means with this stuff. Tonight to mothers to sons and a nonstop twenty-five our operation. To bring one back to life. What will the end result? They finally come face to face. Look, I'm just curious as a mother what feels like to know your son's face. Another human body. Good evening. I'm Amy robots and this is twenty twenty tonight. Our is truly extraordinary it might seem like something out of science fiction. But it's reality, and Amy you witness the entire thing. Yes. Over the past six months, we've seen the amazing miraculously transformation that you're all about to see in the face of one young, man. It's remarkable. And seeing knowing what you've been through can you walk us through what you got from will. And what you were able to keep on on the cart. Stark right here. Down and then hunger. Will it's one of the most unusual questions I've ever posed to anyone asking a young man for a guided tour of the features of his face. So when you look in the mirror. What do you say? I. But before Twenty-six-year-old Cameron Underwood wants the world to see the me. He sees he I want you to understand how his former face and the face of another young man, he never knew became one. How together camp was given a second chance at life. So much of this story is not anything that anyone would ever prepare for in their life. It's unimaginable. Like, you said it like how did this happen? Cams mon- Beth Bailey Potter believes, God put her on earth to be a wife and mother her greatest joy her four children, the oldest Julie. And then the three boys Aaron bread and her youngest Cam, they were just so close, and I always took pride in that. I think that there's a bond between the three of us that's different than any other brother. Bon. Close knit family rounded in their faith, cams grandfather, founded the United Pentecostal church in the northern California agricultural community of Yuba city faith is the essence of everything in our family without that foundation. I think the during a lot more to. Punting is a religion for Cam. And the Underwood's is well. Where will you? Now, of course family. We all liked the doors. He grew up on the leg. And he was just natural athlete. He was he was good. Cam which you got show me the game ball. He's he's gifted in so many areas in so many ways. Cool, son. He was to specie. He was always quiet a little more on the shy side. But just a wonderful spirit about him using Gorn. But by the time Cam gets too high school, his spirit, isn't the first thing. Most people notice about him. It's his face the cameras up a, very handsome handsome. Boy, you know, a smile would light up this pace, and it was so evident in his eyes. It's the handsome boy women started noticing him more and more we would walk into places, and you know, ladies heads would turn but for Cam, there's only one girlfriend or so he wasn't over there for sure the couple date for years after high school planning a future Cam starts working in his stepfather's business. Heavy equipment repair. He made so much money. He bought his own house at the age of nineteen. But the family says can becomes a worker Hollick pushing himself working too hard and playing hard to call each other. We meet up usually at camps house, go drink some beers. You know, it started out. It was fun. Twenty-one everyone drinks and goes and has a good time. But can isn't everyone. His mom Beth says even with everything going for him that bright light that had always shown in cams is begins to fade. Good-looking driven self sufficient, and yet at some point you noticed something dark, you know, I have a clear. A memory, and my mind, I saw him walk across the parking lot. And he just looked. So sad and so empty I just saw. What take a went through as an happy turns out. He is the family says Cam kept his loved ones completely in the dark rarely showing his emotions even as the life. He counted on was falling apart like when he and his girlfriend broke up. I think being with somebody for that long. Obviously, there's a huge. Cap left in your life. Now, I know he started going out more. You know party a little more that's on and over the next few years Cam and his closest old cohorts had drifted apart drinking, buddy. Kevin started a family of his own and both his older brothers. Now had new jobs and moved out of state. What impact did their absence have on Cam, his best friends huge? He was alone. He was alone. Well, not completely alone. I spent more time with Cam than anybody. Yeah. We were together nearly seven days a week. This is camps. Uncle Lonnie who admits a big part of their togetherness involved drinking a lot of drinking bed was concerned about campaign. I our relationship as far as the oklaho- and everything else. Did you know that Cam was drinking too much? Yes. Yes. I did. And I was worried, but less obvious is the underlying depression still it's a shock when Cam not so subtly hints. He's thinking of taking his own life. Spell it out. But I mean, I news with a gun anew. That's what he was planning. I mean, it was very alarming. I understand his father at one point remove the guns from cams home because I asked him to. When I went over and got his guns because his mom said he was he was talking about going himself. I I never thought even go that far turns out camps. Father Randy removed, all the guns all won a shotgun. Cam kept in his safe. Which brings us to a Sunday night that June. Good GAM, you know, eight or did you just come down? Stay the night. Okay. I got to his house on lights on which I expected doors unlocked. I walked in nobody in living room, and I figure it he is probably in the bedroom. Lonnie walks into that bedroom and into a nightmare blood everywhere and camp staggering against the wall. I think that is probably the point. I went into Shaw. Sunday, June twenty six twelve seventeen m mom calls and says Cam shot himself, and they're headed to ride out. Cam Underwood sister, Julie started writing in diary as her brother's. Life was hanging in the balance at Rideout Memorial Hospital. Even now her written words are hard to fathom doctors tell my parents camps faces dust and that if he even lives he will not see or talk the twenty four year old put a loaded shotgun to his chin an attempt to take his own life. But it didn't work the blast which commonly happens in these areas before the project all comes out of a firearm. There's usually pressure fire that usually is enough to deflect the face. And that's why most individuals that attempt is Mr. brain in the aftermath searing words from the emergency room doctors, they were not very gentle with us. They said there was nothing. They said his face was dust, and he would not make. They told us she had no tone, not Chen. No cheekbones knows facial structure nothing. They asked us if we wanted to go in and see her, son. How do you go in and look at your son when there's nothing left. How do you prepare yourself for that somehow to see that? Hoping that you're dreaming Waco, all nightmare. That's what you hope for the reality incomprehensible his face. So gruesome, we've elected not to show you some of the photos, the family gave us it really wasn't a face. You know? It was pretty horrific so horrific they moved Cam to a top trauma facility UC Davis medical center it breath away when Cameron came in the unit. It was so devastating and incredibly it appears Cam will survive after all but survive with the fate perhaps worse than death. How do you live without a face? There's no plastic surgery that could ever make him look completely normal. Again. He's going to have to live the rest of his life. Looking and feeling like a monster. Renowned plastic surgeon Dr Li PU does what he can to sustain light implanting twelve titanium plates to keep what's left of camps, shattered skull intact. I took a titanium plate and play this. No over the Rame myth face oppor JAL. He can't breathe or eat on his own Cam was alive. But how could he ever really live cried every day for a year? Single. Change places to midday would would've taken his pain in the day. But I couldn't kind of quality of life. Would he have? If he didn't wanna live with all that he had going for him. Why would he want to continue one? Now. It was six months before camp could leave the hospital, and even then he would wear a mask everywhere he went, and I would see people stare at him, and he would know stem. The worst part was little kids kinda hide stare at him. And hang on mom dad because he looks pitiful. But then cams doctor, Dr poo uttered the words that would change camps fate forever, though at first they sounded more like science fiction than medical science face transplant. I'm thinking face transplant. You know? Can they actually what is a face transplant? We'd never heard of such a thing ever and new sooner did bed. Find herself at the checkout counter of her local Bros. Restore coincidentally thumbing through. This issue of people magazine how faded it wasn't on anything on the outside of the cover that caught my attention. The article inside about a face transplant the night. He's courageous former fire. Firefighter. It was the same story that ABC news Nightline had already covered the story of Patrick Harbison. A Mississippi fireman who was horribly disfigured. Trying to rescue a woman from her burning home. See everything coming down like Cam Patrick would survive but his scalp ears nose eyelids and lips were gone in two thousand fifteen at NYU Langone medical center in New York, Dr ward, oh Rodriguez agreed to perform what was then the most extensive face transplant ever. The operation took twenty six hours. This was the amazing transformation all made possible because of donor a reminder that one man's mortalities. Is another man's miracle. So it's no wonder as soon as Bev learns about that story. Face transplants, like something out of c-, pick up this magazine. And you see the name Dr Rodriguez all she can think of is what Dr Rodriguez might mean for her son. And so I decided that I would go ahead and send an Email the doctor Rodriguez, but Cam will I have to prove he wants a second chance at life was reluctance because of the concern to take aways life during a bout of depression, the fact that he had come this disfigured because correct? The attentive side coming up convincing a savior your saving. Stay with us. Do you spend the night tossing and turning are you dealing with a stiff neck and back for months if you're struggling to get a good night's sleep? You've gotta try purple mattress. The purple mattress will probably feel different than anything you've ever experienced because it uses a new material developed by an actual rocket scientist, the purple mattress feels very unique because it's both firm and soft so keeps everything supported while still feeling really comfortable. Plus, it's breathable. So it sleeps cool, dry your purple mattress with a one hundred night risk free trial. And if you're not fully satisfied, you can return it for a full refund. Your purple mattresses backed by a ten year warranty, free shipping and returns. Here are going to love purple and right now, our listeners will get a free purple pillow with the purchase of a mattress. Just text twenty twenty two four seven four seven four seven. The only way to get this free pillow is detects twenty twenty two four seven four seven four seven message and data rates. May apply long before Dr Eduardo Rodriguez to over the renowned plastic surgery program and NYU Langone medical center in New York when he was just a student. He went to see a movie. Watching John Travolta trade his face for nNcholas cage is in the nineteen Ninety-seven sci-fi crime drama faceoff. You wanna take his face in mine? Borrow Rodriguez had no idea he was seeing kind of preview of his own career. As a matter of fact, I thought possible no one thinks of that movie as we are even happening in the near future. I never thought about that. If transplants were longshots back, then you might say Rodriguez was too. In fact, when he first applied to medical school from his hometown of Miami. He didn't get in was not going to give to something taking care of patients. So he initially went to dental school and eventually landed at the prestigious Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in an amazing coincidence. Dr Rodriguez just happened to be there in two thousand as ABC news cameras captured remarkable moment of plastic surgery resident. Quitting on camera. Her colleagues are stunned to learn that she is resigning as a doctor at Hopkins, and I interviewed for that position. And I got it as he progressed in the field learning skills to reshape bodies. He started seeing soldiers returning home from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq with horrific facial injuries, far beyond what plastic surgery could fix. Magin looking in the mirror every day without an awful face. It doesn't look like it's a complete identity crisis. But the face is part of the body. You cannot conceal. It's such an important part of our bodies. What defines us people see for the first time without a normal face. It's not living. In two thousand twelve Dr Rodriguez did his first base France plant in Maryland, then moved onto NYU where he did his second in two thousand fifteen the one on the Mississippi firefighter, the same one on Nightline the camps. Mom Beppe now knew about cams. Mom sent me. An Email per story was very moving bad Saint you photographs from California. Yes of Cam. What did you see in those photos right away? When I saw the imaging you with that injury. There's no way that could ever make him normal conventional surgery at least on paper Cam was a potential candidate to become Dr Rodriguez third transplant patient. How do you pick? Then who was a candidate for a face transplant. And who isn't that's a very difficult question. Aac question made more difficult when you consider that the procedure costs over a million dollars the hard question for everyone was Cam worth it. How worried where you that? He might try this again that he might try to end his life. Again. Everybody was very worried about the next three thousand miles scouting trip of sorts to Yuba City, California to meet Cam and his family to face the fact that he actually had suicidal idealization of which he tried to deliver on that is still a concern. Then we have to talk about think that anybody knew that it was a test per se. I think we did understand that he had. To be sure that their investment in Cameron was secured. And that he was not the kind of patient that wouldn't take this amazing miraculously gift and throw it away. This is only something offered selected visuals used to race. I need to know that I have fighter in my hands. Get this out to ride. And this person to whatever it takes to have this operation be successful. We should never give up on these individuals that go to this incident in their life. What was it about the drinking that made you feel that way? I think it's important that people understand the severity of undergoing this operations, not a quick fix. Not at all for starters of base transplant needs a lifetime of treatments with harsh side effects to prevent rejection. And doctors say they just don't know enough yet to predict survival beyond ten years. Maybe we can only promise ten years with life. As a mom though. Did that give you pause? It did. But this was camps decision to be made to truck Cam. Track by the end of the visit both doctor and patient were on board being accepted in this program is very much like winning the lottery, but instead of winning five hundred million dollars Cameron wins a second chance at life. For the first time, and that's something when you felt hopeless up until that point some mom, you wanna fix things, but fixing things now would require one more huge step. How difficult is it to find a donor? The donors the most difficult part of it's like a needle in a haystack. Yuba City California is located near the feather river at the base of Sutter beauts referred to as the smallest mountain range in the world. But one of its sons has won a specially steep mountain left decline. So now, he's got a doctor. You've got a procedure. You've got hope, but you need a donor. We need a donor. What was the waiting like it was tough? It's a kind of macabre paradox for a mother knowing that her son's good fortune will only come at the expense and said misfortune of another mother son somewhere sometime this kid who had so much to give and it was cut short. Until it happens to you. You can't believe white it feels like to lose child, especially when. Child stats was rentable. His name was will Sally fishers only child whom she raised his a single mom in New York City. What was his childhood like a had a pretty remarkable. I mean, he was an amazing kid. He was extremely compassionate. He was extremely generous to a fault. And as a mother, I'm sure that's what you are most proud. Yeah. But it wasn't just will spirit that made him special. She says, it was also his brilliant mind. His mind worked in ways that you couldn't believe or he do woodworking one day, he do ceramics and other day the third day. He would do chess will became a child prodigy competing in more than two hundred just tournaments. He won many titles and New York state champion, the Pennsylvania state championship his family seeing comparisons to the legendary chess champ and namesake of the movie searching for Bobby Fischer on more concerned about other things like his friendships. My sister was very boring because she said look at Bobby Fisher. They're all insane doesn't this worry you that he likes chess by his teen years. Sally was worried about well seeing him struggle unable to connect with his peers, it's hard to be a kid when you're have the mind adult. He was diagnosed. Sd with mental illness when he was in college. Sally says the only thing worse than her son Vilnis was the way the world began to treat him. There's tremendous stigma. Society district cards and discard people with mental illness wasn't that. So. Don't want wanna see child suffer. Especially. Suffer when you know that we're still in a situation where the Elvis that he has. Something that. The world isn't care about. Will had to leave college and back home in New York. He was given psychiatric treatment. But Sally says eventually those prescribed medications weren't enough. She was fearing the worst won't for you afraid was going to happen. I knew self medicating. What do you think he was doing with those drugs masking pain? I think that he was trying to feel better. He didn't wanna die. He didn't. I don't think he wanted. And he said, mommy, don't let me. It was a night last December just days shy of New Year's. In Martin fever. But once he was stabilized the hospital wanted to discharge him Sally says she begged them not to and I don't think it was fair to discharge well to care for himself when he was clearly unable to I said, you can't if you discharge him he will be dead and twenty four hours, and it was the next day that I often his fame and he was like this slumped. And he'd stopped breathing. This time it would be too late to save will that brilliant mind declared brain dead by the time he arrived at the hospital. I think there was a combination. Eight. Eight of opioids in his system. And I'm not sure which had been prescribed, but it was both prescribed prescribed to end his lethal combination. It's just such a loss, you know? And you just can't. You can't believe that. He can't. Then he can't live his dreams. But what if through will someone else could still on a breathing machine measures were then taken to harvest will still living precious organs in the midst of your on imaginable grief and shock decided to take measures to make sure that wills organs could be saved to be donated. Actually, it wasn't my decision. Will it turns out years earlier as a teenager will had registered with New York state to be an organ donor? He wouldn't understand logically. Why someone wouldn't be an orbital maybe some of that compassion that you about if you die, and you have something that somebody else can use. Why wouldn't you shave a life? Organ donation is one thing but donating his face. It's not an ordinary thing to be asked to donate. Dr Rodriguez says the request is a very special one handled with utmost sensitivity asked separate time separate consent. You know, the idea. You know faces personal. Yeah. And especially because Cameron suffered his. Injury digit Twenty-three, which was the age Willie was when he died, and I just thought, you know. He can get this kid face and Willie had beautiful face. There was no question in my mind. That this is something that will would want it January fifth two thousand eighteen Cam Underwood day of renewal has come as they arrive at NYU Langone medical center and unplanned and highly emotional encounter in the lobby with Will's mother. Sally, welcome. Welcome. Good thinking, what did she say to you? She's thanking us giving. This gift to us. And then thanking us thank you. You have no idea what this means joy new at this. I don't think I would have survived. Well, Steph headed not been for Cameron and his family. It was very difficult because no matter. The condition of my son. I still had my son. She's lost her son. Yes, you're on the bureau side. Here's what will happen next in one OR doctors will remove the lower portion of Will's face extracting, what they need will spatial muscles nerves. Jaw antiques in the other. Oh, our doctors will Cam removing the scarred damaged portions of his face only to be replaced with wills the requisite parts of two once handsome strangers that together will become one new man. Often people think it's just like putting on a mask. It's not that simple. It's six AM as bed kisses. Cam goodbye. And he has willed into surgery a team of more than one hundred is ready to go in side-by-side operating rooms. What did you have to do to make this face transplant work for Cam face needs to fit like a puzzle? And that's a tricky thing that preparation alone takes more than twelve hours. The actual facial reconstruction will take just as long we prayed for those doctors throughout the night. They're pulling an all nighter there. None of them are leaving. No sleep around the clock. Standing over in that operating room for twenty five hours straight. It's hard to believe, but there's so much adrenaline pumping through your bloodstream, those hours go by like that. This has to look normal face but economic, but in the lead up to those transformational overnight hours one remarkable part of the process has already been completed there are three D masks that you actually create for the daughter, correct? Why were we remove the face? There's no wound to close we have an open cavity. And that's very difficult for members of our team to see that individual. We're very fortunate that we have incredible technology right here on our campus NYU where we can take three tag Raphy, and that can be printed in into high fidelity three D mask, which is an exact replica of the donor. If the comfort to the donors family to was nice, even though it was only me that saw him with a mask that. I could see him today. I think it's more important for people who want to have opened viewings and open caskets and that kind of stuff that looks just like well. Don arrives more than twenty one ruling hours have elapsed when Dr Rodriguez waits for the critical moment in every transplant. He's ever done will the blood return to the face. Pink at this point on feeling. Pretty good blood is flowing. Everything is now working a few hours leader eight fifty eight AM it's a bona fide medical marvel at prayed for that miracle every day for a year, and my son had a nose and the NFL had teeth, and it was just a happy moment. I want to do a nut around. And look I heard her phone I felt after the current plan. And what was that like well? We're really excited. Can you walk us through what what you got from? Well, and and what you were able to keep which brings us back to where we started only this time. Cam is ready for his close up. This is cams new face. Kirk wrote here goes down her mind, and then everything anger will all wheel. And then we'll all. All the lower and upper Ville. That will facial hair. Then technically. Should be able to feel brations. Yeah. Do you see a combination of the former you and will together a little bit? These pictures show cams remarkable progression. Ten incredible months of healing. What about everything else in terms like breathing smiling all the things that faces due to make it work group? You know, grew my nose and run off while. I am shot. I I met campaign speech therapy last summer. You know, what you want to say and not being able to make your body say it. I mean, I'm I'm impressed. Work. Felt how caucus. A new now and. With the baby. Learn how to part of the recovery has been extensive dental work done all towards ROY. That's on any concede. Now that is fitting perfectly it's it's it's regulus. You've come a long way, even since I've met you a couple of months ago. And I remember then you told me you hadn't eaten for so long. Pizza bird. You wanna burger you forget how green it is to just actually be able to eat. Fitting out. All. Herger and. Back home Cam has been able to get other pieces of his old life back playing golf having a catch. He's even gone skydiving. As great as it is. He admits there are still tough days. Remember, this was once a suicidal young, man. Do you still struggle with depression? Not go five more Gregor. Phil bay. Since getting a new face Cam Underwood has slowly but surely been getting used to being out and about but the meeting he and his mom are heading to now is fraud with anxiety. Waiting for them on this Manhattan apartment? Patio is Sally Fisher in a minute. She will once again be looking on the face of her late son a face now belonging to someone else. I know my heart feels. Scared. The loss of lease. Along for moral support the surgeon Dr Rodriguez who made the emotional encounter possible Cam's brother, Aaron and wills family. And then the breathless moment ten months in the making unfolds. Sequel. New. You're the courageous one. And give my son the chance to be normal. So just you look to this. I mean, I guess I'm a little biased. I think it dropped charges. Thank you. I gave her a locket that held to pitcher. Fun pitcher Cam that I love and a candidate shot of will. And I had those pitchers put in the lock it. We'll have beautiful face. They would have been tragedy for to die with them. I feel really happy. What do you want people to take away from this story depression, this ailment depression? It's treatable. Purpose of the story is to someone else. And in the case of will not just giving hope but giving life in addition to his face, his heart kidney liver, and is also donated just extrordinary we are all rooting for Cam tonight. And these are really two remarkable young men into extraordinary families to do this. Thank you. It was amazing. That's twenty twenty and I robot for all of us ABC news. Good night. Have a dream. But don't know where to begin. I didn't want to be limited looking for wisdom for women who've already been there, you will constantly be given the opportunity to lose yourself. Welcome to ABC's. No limits. I'm your host, Rebecca Jarvis. And each week. We're talking to game changing women about success lessons learned along the way. And of course, the worst advice really thought about this worse than vice ever. You can hear new episodes of no limits every week on apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app.