I've been a long time reader but never made an account here until my friend shared some of my story in a facial reconstruction post. I was the second person in the US to have a full face transplant and third in the world. As far as full and partials go, I was the third in the US and I think fifteenth in the world.

I know I will get asked as to why I needed one, so I will clear that up. In 2001 I was in a single cab pick-up truck. The driver lost control around a turn and ran into a utility pole, cracking it in half and putting a lot of power lines around the truck. When his gf exited the vehicle, she was struck by one of the downed lines, I immediately got her off and was struck myself. 10,000 volts, 7 amps, for five minutes, The electricity entered my left left and the majority exited my face. I lost 2 fingers on my right hand, left leg and all of my face (full thickness burns). I do not remember thirty minutes before the accident or thirty days after (drug induced coma). Everything I know is by eye witness accounts. I'm probably fortunate to have not remembered that much pain. Though after waking up, I was still in a lot of pain. My left leg was still being amputated further upas the infection kept spreading. Luckily it finally stopped spreading and my knee was saved.

I'm new to Reddit so this is my first AmA. I hope I did it right. Feel free to ask me questions and I will do my best to answer them. You can view my youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/Fifth0555. My FB medical page is https://www.facebook.com/DeathIsScaredOfMe. There I have an album called "progression" which shows pictures of before the accident, after the accident, and the healing stages after the transplant. My newest one is the profile pic taken this week. My personal FB is https://www.facebook.com/Mitch.W.T.F though I have it pretty locked down, so a lot of the pics on it can't be viewed, even by subscribers. Feel free to add me though, I'm a pretty down to Earth guy and enjoy meeting new people, from different parts of the world.

Like I said, feel free to ask me questions and I will do the best I can to answer them all. If I get swamped, just be patient, I will eventually get to your question. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thank you all for the warm welcome I have received thus far.

Mitch H.

Comments: 1377 • Responses: 123  • Date: 

omar_strollin407 karma

I'm truly amazed on how seamless your skin looks! Are you fully recovered, or do you have to return for "touch ups" or additional surgeries in the future?

MitchHunter478 karma

I am going back to Boston in June for a minor surgery or two. Having I guess what you would call a "nose job" to remove some excess bone growth between my bone and the donors bone. I also want to have another nip/tuck procedure done on my neck area (that has been the only surgery I've had since the transplant). And possibly a Z plasty on my eyes. I think with the nose job and Z plasty, the hollow look around my eyes/nose will look more normal.

omar_strollin178 karma

Very cool, I wish you all the best!

MitchHunter147 karma

Thank you!

ClintonHarvey161 karma

This is the raddest AMA I've seen in a long time.

I don't really have a question, but since I'm here so early I may as well come up with one:

Can you smell?

I look forward to reading your replies to all the questions!

MitchHunter230 karma

I never lost my sense of smell!

ClintonHarvey96 karma

That's excellent!

You look amazing, I'm very happy that the facial transplant has worked out in your favor, very seamless.

Also, how is nerve function? Can you make all the facial expressions you desire? Or are some more difficult than others?

MitchHunter138 karma

Smiling big enough to show my teeth is the hardest thing. I still can't do it. As far as nerve sensation, I can feel everything a normal person would!!

ClintonHarvey92 karma

May I... offer up a simple solution?

That's awesome, it's incredible how far medicine has come, 20 years ago you probably wouldn't even be able to have nerve sensation, now you have a full on face and feelings!

MitchHunter44 karma

Awesome pic!! Yeah medical science is amazing these days. Give it another 20 years!!

trimpage89 karma

How much did all this cost? Seems like it would be a lot, or is it insurance covered?

MitchHunter123 karma

I have no idea.

ClintonHarvey72 karma

Wat.

You have insurance, no? Or is it all based on the kindness of strangers?

MitchHunter317 karma

The government is funding face and limb transplants. I do have insurance but everything that happens in Boston has been covered.

I did have a fundraiser to help with travel costs, hotels, and what not. So the kindness of strangers helped a lot.

KyleGG17 karma

So do you consider yourself at all a government experiment?

It's pretty amazing that it's all been funded. You are one of the pioneers of the next generation of medical care.

MitchHunter34 karma

Nah, I don't feel like an experiment. I feel very fortunate to have a normal life again! It does feel awesome being a pioneer in this aspect of the medical field!!

nkeithb271 karma

Have you compared a picture of the donor to yourself? I know it's that person's face, but do you look exactly as they did? Do you like the movie Face Off?

MitchHunter428 karma

I have seen pictures of him and I look nothing like he does. Your bone structure is what makes you look like you, not the soft tissue. I only had minor bone damage around my nose. I look a lot like myself and older brother.

I did like that movie!! Never though it would be possible lol. Though the recipients look nothing like the donors.

beener56 karma

Please tell me you've done the "face...off" Nick Cage impression. Please.

MitchHunter123 karma

Hand over face and pretending to pull it off. Yup!

ChinatownDragon22 karma

So how does the donor look now? What happens to the donor? (Unless you become a donor after you die)

EDIT: Sorry for being ignorant and having a serious question.

MitchHunter60 karma

He passed away, they wouldn't let a living person donate so much tissue if they would let them donate tissue at all.

DrDizaster9 karma

Makes me wonder who got my now passed wife's eyes :(
She was an organ donor, unintentional overdose, to my knowledge that was all they harvested from her body. I hope it wasnt a dude that got them.

MitchHunter2 karma

To my knowledge the can't transplant the entire eyes, and if so there are millions of nerve endings to connect to make sight possible. It was probably a retina transplant. I'm sure you could contact the donor bank and find out what they were used for, but maybe not find out who they went too. Though, in my case, it was up to the family to want to meet me, so you may be able to if the person wants to meet you!

_iReddit_255 karma

On a side note. How are you more attractive then me?

MitchHunter466 karma

LoL, beauty is on the inside. To bad it took me losing my looks to realize that. I was pretty conceited before the accident. Life gave me a reality check.

_iReddit_225 karma

If beauty is on the inside... Can I be inside of you?

Understanding you are new to Reddit, OP's usually deliver with a yes.

MitchHunter788 karma

Bby you str8

knucklesoup245 karma

If you were to go on a diet and lose weight would your body cannibalize the donor fatty tissue in your face?

Have you cut yourself shaving and if so, does it bleed/heal normally?

Would the dna from dead skin cells from your face be yours or the donors?

fascinating AMA, I was shocked by how normal you look and spoke in your video. great to see how fast the technology is advancing in this field.

MitchHunter354 karma

I lost a lot of weight after gaining so much from the prednisone and my face did slim down.

I have cut myself as I was learning to shave again, it heals just like yours would!

They would find both mine and the donors. The call it being a Chimera when you have two dna strains.

WizardofStaz256 karma

They say the body completely replaces itself every 7 years or something like that. Will there ever be a point where your face is entirely comprised of your DNA?

MitchHunter548 karma

That is still being looked into by the team. That was one of my first questions and it had them stumped.

digeridude128 karma

Is your facial hair your own hair color or the donor's hair color?

Did it have hair on it during the transplant?

Did you get a free beard? I must know.

MitchHunter204 karma

Our hair color was very close. Over time the color has became closer to mine.

No, but in the three days I was in a coma following, I had already grown hair.

I can grow a really nice beard. Some of my friends are jealous.

HolyGarbage20 karma

Wait, are you saying your own DNA slowly takes over the donors? Would that mean your face would gradually transform closer to your original face?

MitchHunter35 karma

We still aren't sure on that but that's what it seems like. My face already looks like mine because of my bone structure.

softanaesthesia14 karma

Is your beard different from the one you could grow before the accident?

MitchHunter35 karma

No idea, as when I got in the accident i could barely grow any facial hair. But seeing how my brother's beard has turned out, I don't think my original one would have been as good ;)

kilogttam210 karma

How was the drivers girlfriend after getting struck?

MitchHunter367 karma

She had burns to her right foot. Her and I lost contact about 3 years ago. I had her on my myspace, ws having a kid, turning 30 and was like "I'm to old for myspace" ended up deleting it. I still talked to her on the phone but that phone got dropped in the bathtub.

I've been trying to find her ever since i became a candidate for the transplant. I sent all her information to CNN and we have been trying to find her for a while now.

Hopefully she is a Redditor and sees this. I really want to find her, the last time we talked, she was still very upset and felt like it was her fault what had happened to me.

IgottagoTT130 karma

If she is a redditor and she does see this, what would you like to say to her?

MitchHunter349 karma

What I always told her "It's not your fault"

rayzerdayzhan187 karma

Don't fuck with me Shawn...not you, don't fuck with me!

MitchHunter144 karma

Great movie, while in Boston I visited the park bench where he was sitting on.

ChrisHernandez199 karma

Why did I read this AMA as Milf Hunter?

MitchHunter134 karma

LoL

r3dlazer163 karma

Sorry if I'm misunderstanding, but what actually caused all the damage? The electricity? What happened to your leg, and how did it get infected?

MitchHunter234 karma

10,000 volts 7 amps for 5 minutes caused all the damage listed. I got grounded out and was held by the current rather than being thrown from it.

ExpatJundi93 karma

So, any super powers now? You can PM me if this is confidential.

MitchHunter164 karma

I think my brain capacity is higher. On my sleepless nights I study astronomy and astrophysics as a hobby. And can actually wrap my mind around a lot of it ;)

ExpatJundi45 karma

Thanks for replying to my dumb question! Are you serious about your mental acuity? Obviously this wouldn't be due to the electricity, but did you fill your recovery time with new intellectual pursuits?

MitchHunter73 karma

It was more of a joke but yes, I occupy my time researching everything that interests me. I'm always looking up sleep disorders and remedies. I run an FB page called The Insomnia Club and I try to give my Insomniacs all natural sleep aids.

erode89 karma

5 minutes? I am surprised the issue here is not brain damage. Incredible!

MitchHunter586 karma

When I was in a coma, the doctor told my family I would either not survive. Or I would be deaf, blind, dumb, or all three. I woke uo and the first thing I said was "where the fuck am i at" "can I get a fucking cigarette"

jakielim23 karma

"Mr. Hunter, I'm afraid that your son succumbed to Chronic F-bomb Syndrome."

MitchHunter14 karma

LoL!!

homergonerson86 karma

Holy shit. That should have killed a lesser man. Congrats alone on surviving that much of a shock

MitchHunter200 karma

I've been told by a lot of electricians that about 95% of the people in this world would not have survived.

hpwebzy110 karma

Electrician here. All I can say is wow, there are levels of danger you approach different situations with [it could hurt// that will hurt// and better have a defibrillator] and this one isn't even discussed, its in a whole different ballpark. Superhuman indeed.

MitchHunter320 karma

Ironically they use the defib to "shock" me back. Its like "don't you think I've had enough electricity for one say" "CLEAR"

jjjaaammm161 karma

1) Did you lose your sight?

2) Was there structural damage to your face and what was done to it surgically after the accident but before the transplant?

3) Do you worry about rejection or acute/chronic GVH?

4) How have the people in your life reacted to your new face?

5) Would you want to meet the family of your donor? Would that be strange?

MitchHunter232 karma

1) I have perfect vision 2) I lost bone around the bridge and side of my nose, I have had over 70+ surgeries since the accident. That includes many on the face, leg, and right hand. I forgot to mention, I lost my pinkie and ring finger on my right hand. 3) I've had one about of stage 2 to stage 3 rejection. Was easily knocked out with the use of prednisone. I try not to think about it, so I don't over worry myself. 4) They are amazed at how well it looks. I imagine it took them a while to get use to, just as it took them a while to get used to how I looked after the accident. Now they just see me as me again. 5)I have met three members of the family. I can't go into much detail out of respect for their anonymity. I will be meeting more in the future as well!

jjjaaammm96 karma

Thanks for the answer, i have more questions: Has your self image changed? When you close your eyes do you see your new face or your old one. When you dream?

MitchHunter179 karma

It has not changed, I look a lot like myself. About dreams, when I first got into th accident, I always dreamed of how I looked before. It took a few years to dream about the way I actually looked. Now when I dream, I dream of how I use to look before the accident because that is how I feel I look.

jjjaaammm47 karma

Congrats man that is awesome. This must have been a such a relief. Do you have pictures of post accident pre transplant?

MitchHunter102 karma

The ones on the net are my Army pics. I probably should go to my mom's house and scan other pictures as well.

It was a great relief! I went from being the face that stood out in a crowd to just another face in the crowd. It feels awesome not being stared at all the time!

logically34 karma

All things considered you look fine. Is it difficult to see "yourself" now?

MitchHunter53 karma

Not at all!

MitchHunter27 karma

Not at all.

nighthawk7511151 karma

Dude, your surgical team at the Brigham did a phenomenal job. If/when you come back to Boston, get some Cannoli's at Mike's in the North End before you return home.

MitchHunter117 karma

I love the North End!!! Best Italian food I've ever had!!

knucklesoup140 karma

Do you ever think about how your face might change as you grow older, I noticed how smooth and wrinkle free yours and the other face transplant recipients are. Seems like the lack of fine movement in the muscles would keep your face from aging like most people, sort of like extreme botox.

MitchHunter170 karma

I have wondered how I wil age, I knew before the transplant, I would not get wrinkles ever. Not sure how that's going to work now. This will be a great question to ask the team!!

JustCosmo93 karma

How does/did your girlfriend deal and react to all of this?

MitchHunter225 karma

She was very surprised at how well it looked. Unfortunately her and i are no longer together but remain great friends to this day. We have a beautiful son together. I also have twin girls with another women. She was quite amazed as well.

beeloudglade59 karma

How have your children reacted to what's been happening? (If they're old enough to understand what's going on, anyway.)

MitchHunter119 karma

My son i more understanding than the girls, but all three haven't really been affected by it. My son can look at all three versions of me and knows that its "dad".

snickles192 karma

1) Did she leave you prior to the accident?

2) can you reveal a picture of yourself before the accident?

MitchHunter4 karma

My gf at the time of the accident dumped me two weeks before I was released from the hospital. I did get the sympathy lay beforehand though ;)

I have provided links in the OP or just google Mitch Hunter. My Army pics are on google images.

MitchHunter85 karma

If I have missed any questions, feel free to ask again. You all have made my day/night/week/year!! I love people's curiosity!

FulcrumPoint83 karma

How does a full face transplant work?

MitchHunter171 karma

They removed all the scar tissue from my face, then removed the face from the donor. A lot of microsurgery was performed to connect the blood flow and four nerve endings. Some bone around the nose issue was transplanted as well. I know it's more complex than that, but I'm only the patient, not the doctors. I hope this answers your question though.

MastersInDisasters35 karma

[deleted]

MitchHunter74 karma

Actually, I do have a few of the main doctor's personal phone numbers!

JustCosmo74 karma

You said you've met some of the donors family, how was that???

MitchHunter112 karma

Very emotional!

ZBXY21 karma

I know you say you look like yourself, but does the donors family think you look like the donor? Thanks!!

MitchHunter77 karma

I've never asked and probably never will. Out of respect.

12LetterName71 karma

You're doing great with the AMA so far. Thank you for taking the time to actually answer questions!

I was in Speedway a couple years ago. I highly recommend that if you go through the museum that you also pay the extra $5.00 and take the busride around the track!

Anyways, no questions. Thanks, though.

MitchHunter56 karma

I've been going to the track since I was a kid, use to have a job there in HS cleaning all the offices and what not. I had a pass that could get me into the track whenever I wanted!

_iReddit_69 karma

Ill be the first to ask. Where did you get the face to be transplanted? And if you don't mind telling us how much feeling and mobility do you have in your face currently and before the transplant as well? EDIT: I want him to at least see this lol.

MitchHunter104 karma

Someone had to pass away for the transplant to be possible. I will never forget that and am very thankful for his selflessness on being a donor and the families decision to let the doctors use the facial tissue.

I have close if not 100% feeling back in the face. The mobility is pretty well too. Still fine tuning the muscle control around my mouth but it's getting better everyday.

Before the transplant, I had good mobility as well. I still had a lot of my own muscle in most of the face. Though the skin was a bit contracted by the scar tissue.

thatguyisswell64 karma

I understand the circumstances are different, but do you ever experience any sort of "phantom limb" sensation from your previous to current face?

Edit: Thanks for doing this! Modern medical advancements are truly amazing, and this really makes me get that living in the future feeling.

MitchHunter102 karma

I do not. I do experience phantom pains in my left BKA (Below knee amputation).

Zakblank39 karma

I've always been curious about phantom pains. I know phantom limbs still feel like they're there but what exactly does the pain feel like? I've always imagined it being either that feeling you get when your leg wakes up from falling asleep or just an ache.

MitchHunter79 karma

My left foot that isn't there gets itches, cramps. Sometimes it feels like its on fire, I guess at one time it was. I feel my toes moving. It's definitely weird but have gotten use to it over the years. Sometimes I do have to go to the ER when it's really bad.

somedudewithcats27 karma

[deleted]

MitchHunter33 karma

I have, and have tried it to no avail.

Cannedbeans62 karma

Hi there, and thanks for doing this, it's very interesting. My question is about odd sensations. I had a large scale surgery done on my upper chest, that left very long, pronounced scars. Sometimes, when I have an itch and I scratch it, I actually reach for another spot to relieve it. As in, I feel the itch on the third rib down, but must physically scratch the fifth rib to get it! Do you have anything like that?

MitchHunter126 karma

At one point before the transplant, they did a flap graft from my back to my chin, they had kept the blood and nerve endings attached. I would get an itch on my chin but it felt like the back of my shoulder when I touched it.

In the new face, all sensation is normal.

TheModernEgg40 karma

I've been reading every comment so far in this thread. I am amazed by your candor and how easy-going you've been about everything. This is the most intriguing thing I've read so far. You're awesome, man.

MitchHunter40 karma

Thank you! This is very interesting to me to, I wish I would have signed up to be a redditor a long time ago!!

E11i0t58 karma

How did you transition into recognizing yourself with your new face? Do you still do a double take?

MitchHunter136 karma

To be quite honest, I could see my Hunter features showing through the first time I looked in the mirror. I never had any kind of dissociation with my appearance. I do look in the mirror a lot though, more to see if there is any redness, the first signs of rejection. But I do look a lot like myself, probably not exactly like I would at 32 if the accident never happened, but a lot better than looking like a zombie :P

ilikeostrichmeat52 karma

How many surgeries have you had so far?

MitchHunter96 karma

70-80+

bdcp31 karma

how many after the transplant?

MitchHunter62 karma

One so far. I'm having at least one in June but I'm going to push for three. All will be minor.

TiredMarine50 karma

How has this accident affected you (besides physically) when it comes to all other aspects of life? Do you have paranoia of riding in vehicles? Did you ever have to seek counseling? Did it change your outlook on life/humanity? Thanks for the AMA!!

MitchHunter81 karma

I have PTSD from the accident but am pretty much in control of it now. It all depends who is driving the car, I sometimes get triggered pretty bad. If I am driving, I'm not worried at all.

It made me appreciate life a lot more, I know what it feels like to be told I probably won't make it. I'm very thankful I did. I see a psychiatrist every month, we talk for a little bit. I take Klon to control the anxiety that came with PTSD. I also have severe insomnia but it's getting better!

scumbagcoyote45 karma

Mitch, after I read through this thread, you answered all of the questions I could think of and even those I couldn't. After reading plenty of AMA's, I am pleasantly surprised how many questions you reply to--including duplicates. So often, folks start an AMA and then seem to lose interest or ignore, in my opinion, great questions. Thanks.

MitchHunter46 karma

I have bad insomnia and this is actually fun for me. I love peoples curiosity.

VeganDog40 karma

  1. How much are you able to move the muscles in your new face?
  2. How did the family of the donor react to meeting you?
  3. How many meds do you have to take every day for rejection?
  4. Is there any chance in the future that you will have to get another face transplant, like how people with donor hearts will eventually have to get a new heart?
  5. Are you able to talk normally?
  6. What happened in the picture where your eyes are red?

MitchHunter79 karma

  1. I can move them pretty well, can raise my eyebrows, flare my nostrils, smile. The one thing I can't do yet, is smile big enough to show my teeth. I still do facial exercises to this day and the doctors are amazed at how well I can animate my facial expressions.
  2. It was a very emotional meeting to say the least. I really can'y go into a lot of detail about the meeting, but I have stayed in contact with one of them through emails since. I think more want to meet me when I go back in June for my two year checkup!
  3. Only two, Prograf and Cellcept every twelve hours. 2mg of prograf and 500mg cellcept twice daily.
  4. If severe enough rejection happens, I suppose that could be a possibility, but I'm not quite sure how that would work. Let me speak with the team and I'll be able to answer this better.
  5. I can speak very clearly now, at first my speech wasn't ood at all, but over time and with facial exercises, my speech is almost back to normal!
  6. To make a long story short, some guy tried to fight me, his punches didn't cause any damage, so he used his weight to tackle me and then choked me unconscious. That is why my eye were filled with blood.

WickerSandman59 karma

A guy tried to fight/kill you after you went through this experience? What a prick.

MitchHunter95 karma

He is paying for it ;)

ihatecommercials14 karma

Wait WHAT please elaborate on this. This AMA has crazy things in it but this is by far the craziest. After what you went through some asshole shithead motherfucker hit you ( channeling some serious r/rage right now)

MitchHunter25 karma

He accused me of something I didn't do. I also got cocky and egged him on for being an idiot.

ReadDis8 karma

What kind of trouble did he get in? Great AMA btw

MitchHunter25 karma

Assault & battery + strangulation. In Indiana strangulation is a different charge in itself.

The_Modern_Pict34 karma

If you were stranded on a tiny Micronesian island with a mermaid friend to keep you company, would you want the bottom half human or the bottom half fish?

MitchHunter58 karma

LoL. Top half human, head would still feel good (this also means she is attractive). I don't think I could get turned on by a fishhead...

warmhandswarmheart31 karma

You mentioned people staring. When I see someone with an issue, being a scar or disfigurement, or disability, I try my very best to be respectful and kind. Were you really all right with someone coming up to you and asking about your disfigurement or did you consider it an invasion of your privacy? I am, of course referring to before you had your transplant. You look awesome btw.

MitchHunter54 karma

I would rather have had people walk up and ask, rather than staring and wondering!

NaziSandwich28 karma

[deleted]

MitchHunter60 karma

My friend Mike is the one that got me to come here after her mentioned me in the one facial reconstruction post. It's amazing how positive people are here. I was kind of scared it might turn out like 4chan.

NaziSandwich51 karma

[deleted]

MitchHunter29 karma

I've never posted there about this but I can only imagine the troll fest I would get!

pahka27 karma

Can you grow a beard?

MitchHunter52 karma

A very nice one!!

MitchHunter20 karma

A very nice one!

Bac0nLegs27 karma

Just wanted to pop in and say that this is super interesting and cool and you look awesome!

MitchHunter42 karma

Thank you!!

MitchHunter39 karma

Thank you!

fieroturbo26 karma

As a fellow veteran, I'm curious if the VA is flipping the bill for this, or if you've had to pay out of pocket?

And thank you for your service!

MitchHunter91 karma

The government is funding these procedures, face and limb transplants. I could have received a partial hand transplant on my right hand, but didn't want to risk losing more. I can game like a mofo with what I have. Did not want to risk losing my gaming abilities lol. Pc gaming > console!

Thank you for your service too!!

ktajlili25 karma

Hello, I was just wondering what happens when the body gets electrocuted? How did it led to your face getting damaged?

MitchHunter41 karma

NO idea, electricity follows the path with the least resistance, since you have openings on your face, I suppose it decided to exit from there. I'm not an electrician so I really don't have a solid answer here. Sorry.

bumbling_mumbler24 karma

If money weren't an issue, what would you be doing with your free time?

MitchHunter50 karma

Traveling the world, meeting other transplant teams/patients. I have met four so far, three in person and one found me on FB. Some teams want to fly me out, but I also have three kids to raise, so I don't want to be gone all the time and miss out on their lives.

lawlshane21 karma

How have your kids reacted to the transplant?

MitchHunter96 karma

They are still pretty young. They may not ever remember me looking like I did. My son at three knows me in all three versions of how I looked though. Me showing him pictures and explaining has helped a lot. My nephew is very curious about it too. When I first arrived back to Indy after the transplant, he was only two and when asked by a reporter as to why I went to Boston, he said "Uncle Mitch needed a new face". It was adorable.

bumbling_mumbler4 karma

An admirable answer! If you could take your kids with you, and money wasn't an issue, where would you like to visit?

MitchHunter12 karma

Definitely the UK (first partial in 2005), Switzerland, Australia, Spain (where the first full was done).

bumbling_mumbler11 karma

So...visiting me and riding roller coasters together isn't on your radar? Oh...okay...:(

MitchHunter14 karma

I love roller coasters, what theme park do you live by?

ilikeostrichmeat24 karma

What was your first reaction when you wore up from the coma?

MitchHunter73 karma

I was pretty drugged up on pain killers and a heavy dose of prednisone. I was hallucinating pretty bad and still had a tube in my trach. It was hard to communicate and I was very frustrated. All I had was a piece of paper with the alphabet on it and the letters were blending together lol. I couldn't even use my Evo to txt because I couldn't tell which letters were which.

zuckerburgsmom23 karma

How did you hear about the procedure/decide to go along with it? Did a surgeon approach you about it or was it something you sought out? How is your relationship with Dr. Pomahac? Does he also do your follow up procedures or does a different plastic surgeon do those?

Thanks for doing this!

MitchHunter33 karma

My aunt saw the first one that got airs on 60 Minutes, told my mom, then she told me. I then researched the hell out of it. I found a doctor in Kentucky that had a team that was interested in doing it, spoke with him on many occasions. Then life got busy and it wasn't until I asked my original surgeon if his team ever planned on doing it. He then got me in contact with the team in Boston in late 2010.

Dr. Pomahac is a great man and doctor. I consider him a friend, not just my doctor. Him and hi team are innovators! He does all my follow up procedures but I have only had one so far.

You're welcome, thanks for the great questions.

zuckerburgsmom11 karma

As a future Plastic Microsurgeon (hopefully), I would love to hear any advice about how to build such a healthy and great relationship with patients.

MitchHunter21 karma

Be honest to your patients w/o shattering all hope. Good bedside manner is a plus. Dr. P and team are great. They all are concerned with my well being, they call me from time to time to just talk, not about medical things, just to shoot the shit for a few.

nomansland33322 karma

About how much time did the whole operation take?

MitchHunter31 karma

I think around 14 hours.

Royboy_Himself17 karma

Praise science! Technology never ceases to amaze me. Lookin' good, mate!

MitchHunter20 karma

I fucking love medical science!!

_GungaGalunga_15 karma

After seeing the bill for just one surgery for a broken jaw I can only imagine how much 70+ would cost. Mind sharing the total with/without insurance? Also, did you receive help from outsiders along the way?

MitchHunter34 karma

Not including the transplant, my bills were a little over a half a million dollars. Medicaid covered a nice portion of that.

DoobieEx13 karma

Coke or Pepsi? Stones or Beatles? Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or one horse sizedduck?

MitchHunter64 karma

I don't drink carbonated or caffeinated beverages! Stones all the way. 100 duck sized horses. I would just take my fake leg off and use it like a golf club!

DoobieEx0 karma

Perrier or Dasani? Lol

MitchHunter1 karma

Dasani, Perrier is to expensive for water IMO. I love my Pur filter though!

rastawarfare9 karma

What's your advice on keeping up hope in such difficult moments?

MitchHunter38 karma

Don't hold in the depression, talk to your family and friends about how you feel. I really didn't use any kind of doctors in the psychology field. I think my time in the Army helped me mentally as well. I can't say it was easy as there were many times I just wanted it to be over. I just had a love for life, I knew I would never be able to end it. I wish I had some secret I used to keep pushing on but like the saying goes "You won't know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice"

thelix7 karma

As you grow old, will your face pass through the age effects in an accelerated manner or will it progress normally? Thanks for doing this!

MitchHunter24 karma

I'm not quite sure how that will work out. I'll ask the tam, I'm alwys full of questions when I speak with them. Like "whose DNA would show up on a biopsy?" Or "Since your skin renews itself, would I eventually be renewing my own skin?"

ccatlr6 karma

were they able to answer those? kinda made me curious as well.

MitchHunter16 karma

Both sets of DNA would show up. They have no idea on the regeneration one, I'll ask it again to see if they have researched it.

mynameisRachel2 karma

Woah, I didn't even think of those questions. Great, now I want to know the answers, too...

MitchHunter3 karma

Both DNA strains would show up. Still not sure on the regeneration.

MitchHunter11 karma

I'm not even sure the doctors could answer that with 100% certainty. I will ask and get back to you!

jonloovox6 karma

Mitch: You, sir, are beautiful.

MitchHunter7 karma

Thank you!

TrueMexicano6 karma

Would you say you are a man of several faces?

MitchHunter14 karma

I really can't even remember looking like I did the 10 years following the accident. I know that sounds weird but it truly feels like I was born with this face.

motorcityvicki4 karma

Dude, you look amazing. I had no idea what to expect when I opened the link, but if I saw you in the grocery store or something I wouldn't even notice anything out of the ordinary.

What kind of psychological prep did they give you before doing the transplant? What questions did they ask, that sort of thing? This is what I'm most curious about.

Thanks for being awesome and sharing your story.

MitchHunter12 karma

I did have a psych evaluation in the process to becoming a candidate. Pretty much what I told them was "Even if I don't get the transplant, I will be happy. I have three beautiful children and a gorgeous girlfriend. I just want to have this done so I can lead a more normal life and not stand out in a crowd".

I wish i could remember all the questions but that was over two years ago. Apparently they knew I was mentally strong enough to go through such a procedure.

bdcp4 karma

Did you go out alot? if so, how did the public react before and after the transplant?

MitchHunter27 karma

People stared, grown adults made jokes about my appearance. Little kids were afraid of me. Ar first it bothered me a lot, then I would walk up to them and ask them if they wanted to know what happened instead of being an ignorant asshole. I also got in a few fights with the real disrespectful ones.

Though for the first 4-5 years, I rarely left the house and if I did, I had a hat and hoodie on, no matter how hot it was. When I eventually moved back to Indy, my friends wouldn't let me be a hermit lol.

johnnywigman3 karma

I don't want to lose my spot, you're an Indiana boy?

MitchHunter6 karma

Speedway, IN!! Go Colts and Hoosiers!! Pacers can get a shout out too bu I can't get into the NBA like I use too. ND football all the way!!

soilednapkin4 karma

You say "face transplant" does that mean you are wearing someones face? Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. If so. Badass.

MitchHunter10 karma

I'm no longer wearing it, it has become a part of me!

mothfukle3 karma

Have you ever had a "freak out" moment? Kinda like, ahhh, this isn't my face? Sorry man, I don't mean to be insensitive, I just can't comprehend what that would be like.

You are a remarkably brave dude!

MitchHunter6 karma

I have not had that kind of moment. I have tough skin, don't worry about appearing insensitive!

Geetarr3 karma

How does it feel having a reconstructed face? Is it an apparent thing that tends to be uncomfortable, or have you become used to it?

MitchHunter5 karma

I'm very use to it, it feels natural now!

Pakislav3 karma

So what do you know about the donor? Who was he, how did he die? Have you been in contact with his relatives? And how does it feel to have another mans face?

MitchHunter14 karma

I don't know much about him even though I could ask. I just feel like it' something that should not be asked of the family. I don't see another person's face. Your bone structure is what makes you look like you, not the soft tissue. Hope this helps!

SockofBadKarma3 karma

Will you admit that Jaqen is your favorite Game of Thrones character?

And on a less serious note (that first question is incredibly important, mind you), what sort of thoughts go through your mind when you look in mirrors?

MitchHunter3 karma

I have not watched GOT yet. I already watch a lot of shows, I'll probably just buy the seasons on blu-ray and watch them back to back. I did that with Lost and loved not having to wait a week for a new ep.

What thoughts? "damn, i need to shave again" "that better not be a pimple" "Man I need a hair cut".

mitchewith2ls3 karma

Is your name Mitch or Mitchell?

I'm wondering if you also go by Mitch because people can't spell your name right.

MitchHunter3 karma

It is Mitchell bu I have gone by Mitch since I can remember. Now here comes the Mitch the Bitch jokes lol J/k

roastedbagel2 karma

Can you make a post on your Facebook referencing this AMA so we know its you and not some random linking to the pages?

MitchHunter10 karma

Done, made it public and put it on my medical page as well.

MitchHunter6 karma

Will do!

Juicyfruit-2 karma

How much have you personally spent to finance all of this? (Completely curiosity, no judgement passing whatsoever)

Looking good as. I thought the after picture was a before photo, if that's any indication of how well it turned out! (before the accident)

MitchHunter3 karma

I did a fund raiser to cover travel costs, hotels and what not. Over the last two years, about $18k.

I'm still amazed at how well it looks!! It doesn't even cross my mind that the face isn't a part of me, that's how natural it feels now!

BromeoAndCooliet2 karma

I know someone else already asked a beard question, but I was wondering if they did a whole face transplant does that mean clear down to below the chin/throat? What I'm actually wondering is how the beard kind of grows in I guess, I mean, if there was enough left there to grow beard on one part of your face does it grow in differently in any way where they did the transplant?

Also, are you still doing everything you imagined you would be doing before the accident?

By the rest of your answers you don't seem to be letting it affect you at all which is fucking awesome.

MitchHunter3 karma

They did take it down to my neck area, as that area was scarred too. I can grow a pretty good looking beard if I say so myself!

I plan on gong back to college this fall or the semester following for IT/CS. That is what I had intended to do after the Army. I was pretty scared of the public right after the accident but I wish I would have knocked out the college in the 10 years before the transplant.

It did affect me in some ways, I just never let it get me totally down. I really wish I could say I was strong the entire time, but I did have my weak moments. Though I think those weak moments made me stronger in the long run.

iPuntMidgets2 karma

How have your senses, (touch, smell, taste, hearing), altered? Do you have any way to help amplify them?

MitchHunter3 karma

My smell, taste, and hearing were never affected at all. I had full sensation after the accident and after healing. Upon getting the transplant, my face was pretty dull to the touch, it was about week 3 that I started feeling sensation and now I can feel everything like normal.

BiologyRulez2 karma

How much sensation do you have on your face, also is your smelling still okay?

MitchHunter4 karma

close to, if not 100% sensation. My smelling was always intact!

scientificwhovian2 karma

Do you have to take immunosuppressants? Has any part of the tissue that got transplanted get rejected by your body? Have you had any side effects from the immunosuppressants (now I'm assuming you do take them)?

MitchHunter4 karma

I take prograf and cellcept. last October I had a minor bout of rejection but didn't lose any of the skin. It was fixed in no time with Prednisone infusions.

mattoly2 karma

Hey Mitch,

I've followed you as I'm a tech journalist and and your story is incredibly interesting. Glad you're doing OK and thanks for the AMA.

My question is this (I'm sorry if someone else asked it below, I'm on a terribly connection): When you look into a mirror, do you at all feel like a different person? That's one of the moral questions this type of transplant brings up and I'd love to hear an opinion from a reliable source!

MitchHunter1 karma

I do not see another person when I look in a mirror. Even the first time I saw myself post transplant, I saw me!

ChubLife2 karma

Have you met the family of the donor? If so how was the reaction and do you still keep in touch with them?

MitchHunter2 karma

I have met some of them. I have kept in contact with one through email but I plan on meeting more of them my next visit to Boston. I can't really say much more on it.

TheWhiteBanchee2 karma

Hey man, sorry about your accident. But I'm glad you're ok now.

I was just wondering if we could see a before/after photo of you before the accident and after. If not, I understand.

Keep it real, be safe.

MitchHunter4 karma

I have many pics on my FB medical page. My personal is not public so my medical page would be the best source.

TheWhiteBanchee2 karma

You are a great man, OP.

MitchHunter1 karma

Thank you!!

ShiNZ2 karma

Do you take any medication to prevent rejection?

MitchHunter6 karma

Prograf and Cellcept. 2mg of prograf every 12 hours and 500mg of Cellcept every 12 hours.

Katdude1801 karma

If you don't mind me asking, how much did it cost, and how did you find someone who would preform such an operation?

MitchHunter1 karma

The Military/Government funded it. I don't know the actual cost but I imagine it is pretty expensive. The main reason why the government it funding such procedures (face and limb transplants) is because of all the injured soldiers that are coming back from combat.

MitchHunter1 karma

I don't know the cost, the government funded it. My original surgeon had a colleague on the team in Boston and got me connected with them. I also talked with the team at the Cleveland Clinic who did the first partial in the US on Connie Culp in 2007.

ChristienQ1 karma

So what does the donor look like now? I'm confused as to how you could donate a face.

MitchHunter3 karma

He passed away, a living person can't donate their facial tissue.

Creativation1 karma

Have you met Connie Culp or any of the other facial transplant recipients? If so, how'd it go?

MitchHunter2 karma

I've met Dallas, Charla, Jim and Richard. Richard and I have not met in person but we are going to make it happen. It has been great meeting others who can relate to what I went through!!

Eshneh1 karma

Does your facial hair grow typically?

And this is probably dumb but will your new face age?

MitchHunter1 karma

I can grow a pretty nice beard I must say! Not sure on the aging part, I will ask the team!

DifferentCeilings-2 karma

Hey Mitch, Thanks for doing this AMA!

How did you feel about the movie Looper? I absolutely loved it but it has become a bit of divider between my friends and I. See, they ALL hated it and I thought it held up pretty well (as far as time travel movies are concerned). JGL actually did a great job as a young Bruce Willis. Couple plot holes here and there but still an awesome movie. Anyways, what did YOU think?

MitchHunter1 karma

I have not seen Looper yet, it sounds very interesting, I will have to give it a watch!

SYNBIOS_INCARNATE-20 karma

Dude, this title is not even trying.

MitchHunter12 karma

I'm sorry, should I have been more specific. I didn't know I needed a flashy title to explain who I was and why I made an AMA. I think "Full Face Transplant" was enough. Thanks for your concern bruh.

lulamirite3 karma

I think he/she is talking about the lack of IAmA/IAm in the title, which no one really cares about. I really appreciate the AMA. I remember reading about you after seeing an article on thedailybeast about a woman who receieved a facial transplant.

MitchHunter2 karma

I'm new to posting here. Had no idea what an AMA was until a fellow Redditor told me lol. I'll see if I can edit it.