Check this edits, my bill just went up another $20k

I've done two AmAs here explaining my face transplant and how happy I am to have been given a second chance at a more normal life, rather than looking like Freddy Kruger the rest of my life.


1st one

2nd one

Now comes the negative side of it. While I mentioned before that The Department of Defense covered the cost of the surgery itself and the aftercare at the hospital it was performed at, it was never brought to my attention that any aftercare at any other hospital, was my responsibility. I find it quite hilarious that they would drop a few million into my face, just to put me into thousands of dollars in medical debt later.

I recently went into rejection in my home state and that's when I found out the harsh reality of it all as seen here Hospital Bill

I guess I better start looking into selling one of my testicles, I hear those go for a nice price and I don't need them anyway since medical debt has me by the balls anyway and it will only get worse.

Ask away at disgruntled face transplant recipient who now feels like a bonafide Guinea Pig to the US Gov.

$7,000+ may not seem like a lot, but when you were under the impression that everything was going to be covered, it came as quite a shock. Plus it will only get higher as I need labs drawn every month, biopsies taken throughout the year, not to mention rejection of the face typically happens once a year for many face transplant recipients.

Also here is a website that a lot of my doctors contributed to explaining what facial organ rejection is and also a pic of me in stage 3

Explanation of rejection

EDIT: WHY is the DOD covering face transplants?

They are covering all face and extremity transplants, most the people in the programs at the various hospitals are civilians. I'm one of the few veterans in the program. I still would have gotten the transplant had I not served.

These types of surgeries are still experimental, we are pioneering a better future for soldiers and even civilians who may happen to get disfigured or lose a limb, why shouldn't the DoD fully fund their project and the patients involved healthcare when it comes to the experimental surgery. I have personal insurance for all the other bullshit life can throw at me. But I am also taking all the initial risks this new type of procedure has to offer, hopefuly making them safer for the people who may need them one day. You act like I an so ungrateful, yet you have no clue what was discussed in the initial stages.

Some of you are speaking out of your asses like you know anything about the face and extremity transplant program.

EDIT #2 I'm not sure why people can't grasp the concept that others and myself are taking all the risks and there are many of them, up to and including death to help medical science and basically pinoneering an amazing procedure. You would think they'd want to keep their investemnts healthy, not mention it's still an experimental surgery.

I'm nit asking them for free healthcare, but I was expecting them to take care of costs associated to the face transplant. I have insurance to take care of everything else.

And $7k is barely the tip of the iceberg and it will continue to grow.

Comments: 3209 • Responses: 65  • Date: 

SuicideForJesus2261 karma

As someone who lost their face, lived for a time without one, and then received a new one, do you see your outward appearance as part of your internal identity?

Is what you see in the mirror "who you are," or just a mask being worn by the person inside?

Many peoples' entire concept of self is based on their external appearance, so I'm curious as to whether experiencing such a dramatic change to your outer shell caused you to reevaluate how you think of yourself internally.

MitchHunter3068 karma

Honestly, I see myself, never really had any type of dysphoria.

buckfaace814 karma

Did you request the transplant or did they seek you as a "guinea pig" as you say? When you state that you went into rejection, can you elaborate on what exactly that means?

MitchHunter2261 karma

To elaborate more, there are four stages of rejection, the 4th stage can't be reversed and you lose the organ. As it progresses from stage 1 to 4, the face starts getting really splotchy, stage 3 looks like a full blown sunburn. I've been in stage 3 in the past but it was always caught in time before it hit 4.

I also had government insurance up until last year so I never saw medical bill, but it was taken away, along with my disability. The government ruled me no longer disabled but my leg still hasn't grown back.

abnerjames1367 karma

The government ruled you no longer disabled with one leg? You must have made the mistake of getting a job.

MitchHunter1289 karma

Yeah, I had 3 kids and then child support, disability wasn't covering that.

buckfaace140 karma

How common is it for a face transplant to be rejected? Does your current insurance assist with any of the expenses?

MitchHunter241 karma

We typically go into minor rejection once a year but none of the patients so far have gone far enough into rejection to lose the face.

The french woman who died a few year ago from two different forms of cancer from the meds we take to not go into rejection did lose some muscle control in her mouth area after a bout of rejection.

MitchHunter119 karma

My current insurance just kicked in May 1st, although in the future it will cover some of the cost of the hospital stay.

MitchHunter244 karma

I didn't request it per se, I applied as a possible candidate.

Just like with any other transplant, the body can start rejecting it. Pretty much your immune system starts attacking it, but it can be reversed by high doses of iv prednisolone over a course of three days.

Methaxetamine59 karma

Would you be interested in the scaffolding technology where they drain it of its DNA or "tissue engineering" or are you happy with your transplant? I heard that doesn't need medicine.

MitchHunter70 karma

It's probably to late for me when it comes tp that.

RichardBachman543 karma

Would Operation Mend be of any assistance, or do they only volunteer the surgeries?

MitchHunter327 karma

I'll look into that.

Diet_Goomy436 karma

Since this statement is only a few weeks old. Contact the DoD. Seems like this is an oversight. Proof that they arnt footing the bill would be nice.

That aside im sorry for your troubles. What happened to make you go back to get work done? I get rejection but i dont understand what that means. Did it start to slide off?

MitchHunter328 karma

to elaborate more, there are four stages of rejection, the 4th stage can't be reversed and you lose the organ. As it progresses from stage 1 to 4, the face starts getting really splotchy, stage 3 looks like a full blown sunburn. I've been in stage 3 in the past but it was always caught in time before it hit 4.

The face wouldn't just come off, if I hit stage 4, they would surgically remove it. I also have a letter from the hospital that it was performed at that the DoD would not be doing anything to help, I can upload that if needed. This wasn't an oversight.

Luvenis176 karma

What the hell happens if they remove your face? I mean, they can't just sew the old one back on!

MitchHunter318 karma

The old one no longer exists, they would regraft skin from my own body and reconstruct my face like they originally did after the accident.

MitchHunter75 karma

twanas393 karma

Part of my training as a surgeon in the 80's was at a Veterans Administration hospital. We gave terrible care. There is no such thing as an emergency or special exception. GI s are right to call them selves government issue. The VA would not cover care outside their own system. I have dozens of nightmare stories, but the most ridiculous is a nose bleed patient flown in 600 miles with units of blood being transfused because we were the closest VA with an ear nose and throat doctor on call. What should have been a $200 "outside" ER visit probably cost us tax payers $30,000.

I believe all veterans ( assuming you are one since DOD is paying) should have full coverage of all services anywhere they want to go. It would be #%¥|€£4&:&€{{€. cheaper!!!

I suspect you have answered before, but do you have your vision and ability to speak intact?

MitchHunter153 karma

I have both

MitchsOldFace322 karma

Why did you leave me?

MitchHunter240 karma

Lol, I bet I know you

faireduvelo321 karma

Hi Mitch,

I saw your picture on your first AMA, and in that one you mentioned that you would soon go to Boston for some "touch-ups" and the like. How did those turn out? How has your face been adapting to being on you? How good of a "match" (for lack of a better word) is your face now?

Thank you

MitchHunter287 karma

It's been a great match i.g. skin tone, hair color, ect.

Lawlta178 karma

If you ever go into a life of crime, you could be a real life Two-Face. That's pretty neat.

My question: are you considering a life of crime?

MitchHunter449 karma

Only if I find out I have some terminal illness and know I'm going to die. I'll be taking a bunch of pedophiles with me to hell.

AnyDogWillSuffice169 karma

You mentioned in one of your other answers that you usually deal with minor rejection once a year, and you've been up to stage 3 in the past.

Will there be a time when there is no longer a risk of rejection, or will this always be a risk no matter how long you've been healing?

MitchHunter226 karma

Rejection will always be a risk until medical science finds new ways to trick the immune system which they are working on.

Deletrious26167 karma

Did they use a condom?

MitchHunter337 karma

Doesn't feel like it.

russinkungen163 karma

Cage or Travolta?

MitchHunter186 karma


subavairpine100 karma

You can sell testicles???

MitchHunter107 karma

Apparently, saw a few articles about it here and there.

Luvenis78 karma

Have you ever ran into someone you knew from before your injury and then have to explain who you are?

MitchHunter128 karma

Not at all, with all the media coverage and word of mouth, everyone pretty much already knew.

Maybe someday it will happen, I'll make a note to let you know how it goes.

_rege65 karma

Might seem like an inappropriate question but could you pull your face off?

MitchHunter119 karma

Probably not, it's attached pretty well.

WobblyGobbledygook62 karma

In some of your photos, it looks as though your eyelids are too far apart to close. What are/were you dealing with as far as that goes? Is it or will it ever get better?

MitchHunter88 karma

There is still work to be done around my eye area, it may improve in time after some minor procedures, that will be covered since it will be done in the hospital the transplant was done.

RomanKandle56 karma

I don't mean to sound insensitive, but it seems like a new face for 7,000 is a great deal. The fact that the government paid out millions and you only have to pay 7,000 seems fair to me. Just the fact that we can now do face transplants is amazing, and I would feel grateful to be given even a chance at a successful transplant.

So my question is knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again or would you say no thanks?

MitchHunter32 karma

7k is just the start. And yes there have been times recently that I have regretted it.

bigredwerewolf46 karma

Hey, how did your friends and family react to the face transplant? Are you in a countant pain? Like if your always feeling close to getting an infection. Hope your Government sort this shit out for you.

MitchHunter66 karma

They were amazed! The only pain I'm in is in my amputated leg.

bigredwerewolf13 karma

That's awesome man abour the fam and friends, shit about the leg. Will the leg pain go away "heal"

MitchHunter39 karma

Nah the phantom pain will always be there

paige_tr1 karma

I've always wondered this about amputated limbs: if you have phantom pains, does anything physical help? Like, if you took tylenol or did heat/ice, would that affect it at all?

MitchHunter1 karma

Nothing really helps, cannabis is the best thing I've found though.

shivpiper9536 karma

Is there a list of drugs that you are NOT allowed to take? Also are you not supposed to eat certain kind of food items?

MitchHunter73 karma

No grapefruit or passion fruit

DunderNuffin14 karma

Why so?

MitchHunter47 karma

Messes with how my body metabolizes the anti-rejection meds.

epgenius26 karma

What explanation was given for your loss of benefits? Was your insurance covered through DoD or VA? Check into the exact explanation given and then, depending on your income, contact a local veterans' legal services organization, or veterans' attorney. The VA (especially) likes to find bullshit ways of getting around payments here and there but, with decent representation and advocacy, they'll kowtow when called out... that or use your story to generate bad press for DoD.

So sorry for your predicament.

MitchHunter43 karma

My income ruled me no longer disabled in the governments eyes.

Dallen6224 karma

What would be the chain of events if you go into stage 4 rejection? What is the best that can be done cosmetically and functionally if you'll have to do without a transplanted one?

MitchHunter30 karma

I would look similar or worse than I did before the transplant.

downwiththechipness11 karma

Was your surgery performed in a DoD hospital? I'm just curious if they're actually performing the transplants or contracting out. Also would think it'd be a lot more bullshit if it was in DoD hospital and no longer covering costs. The long shaft of the military will always fuck you.

MitchHunter19 karma

They are funding other hospitals to do them.

betz44448 karma

Did the accident and subsequent trauma affect you in any surprising ways either psychologically speaking or otherwise?

MitchHunter30 karma

I was diagnosed with ptsd and my psychiatrist wants me tested for tbi.

DeMoCo818 karma

Jesus Christ. I thought that there were only like two face transplant patients in the world. How many of there are you out there?

MitchHunter20 karma

20 so far

KylerGreen6 karma

I assume the accident that caused this was a result of you being in the military? If so do you regret your choice to join?

MitchHunter8 karma

It had nothing to do with my time in the Army. The two previous AmAs will fill you in if needed.

Leena524 karma

How can you subject yourself to these mindless, cruel entities that call themselves human that pop in on AMA's? You seem to bee so mentally strong to handle this? Thank you for your AMA, though; putting yourself out there for those of us on Reddit that are here for education and activism. The government system of healthcare is pathetic, as is healthcare for so many. I wish you well with the Congressmen and Legislative bodies. Next apply to the billing hospital for relief from this bill. Keep asking them to reduce or forgive it. If that doesn't work send them small payments monthly (very small). I truly wish you well.

MitchHunter11 karma

Morons and the ignorant are pretty easy tp brush off.

Zawyer2 karma

Are you a veteran? If not, why on earth should the Department of Defense fund your transplant?

MitchHunter2 karma

I am a vet

BuffaloSabresFan2 karma

If you could trade faces with John Travolta or Nicolas Cage, which would you choose? Travolta's got the looks, Cage has a greater range of facial expressions.

MitchHunter2 karma


McFlare922 karma

Can you see?

MitchHunter8 karma

I can see just fine.

McFlare925 karma

I just wasn't sure if having your face essentially melted somehow spared your eyes. That's pretty wild that you didn't lose your sight

MitchHunter15 karma

I'm still baffled as to how my eyes survived it all.

JaJH1 karma

What sort of TRICARE coverage do you have? Did you get an EOB? Did you contact DOD about it? A major hospital like that should be a Network provider...

MitchHunter1 karma

I had medicaid and medicare through it all, as recommended by the hospital before the transplant even happened, but I no longer have it. My employers insurance just kicked in May 1st but it wont cover and back costs.

arielmanticore1 karma

Have you considered selling your iphone to pay for your bills?

MitchHunter6 karma

Iphones are for people who need their hands held. Droid all the way!

Barleynots1 karma

One face transplant recipient lost not only his or her allograft but also his or her life likely because of noncompliance with medication [44]. Although it remains unclear if noncompliance arose from financial or cultural reasons, both could have theoreti- cally been prevented by assuring financial coverage and by improved patient selection.

Did noncompliance of meds happen in your case? What antibodies did the Boston doctors test for?

What is the duration of the longest surgery? TIL a veteran has to sell his testicles to pay for medical treatment. Edit: reformat of original question

MitchHunter1 karma

If I'm not mistaken, that case happened in another country and I wouldn't know anything about it.

Ghstt-2 karma

Can you quickly give me your lifestory/explanation what happened to you, like why your face was at Stage 3 and why you are missing a leg, or were just born that way? Because I somehow doubted that, but it is possible though (that you were born that way).

MitchHunter5 karma

Read the amas linked, it has all the info you need.

faireduvelo-2 karma

Hi Mitch,

Are you into memery?

Thank you

MitchHunter7 karma

Meme Life!

Ben_Hamish-8 karma

How in the fuck are you going to be given million of dollars then complain about how you were fucked over for the cost of a used Civic?

Did you really sign paperwork worth millions of dollars with out having a lawyer glance at it?

MitchHunter10 karma

I was never given any money...

Beersmoker4201 karma

hes referring to the cost of the surgery

MitchHunter1 karma

Maybe he needs to learn how to structure a sentence properly to convey what he means.

Ben_Hamish-2 karma

Why does it not surprise me that the guy who considers having someone pay million of dollars worth of bills for him "not getting any money" is the same guy who went into a million dollar procedure with out looking over any of the paperwork or making sure he understood what his obligation would be...

MitchHunter1 karma

You're so ignorant on this topic it's not even hilarious.

veteran--23 karma

If this a ploy for money, just ask for it straight up. No need to do three AMA's. ???

MitchHunter7 karma

If it was, I already would have.

It's to show I'm just as expendable as I was when I was a soldier.

BuSTiNUrBallZ-34 karma

I'm just wondering why you would expect them to cover the rest? Life is not a hand out.

MitchHunter18 karma

Well, it's an experimental surgery to help all of our injured soldiers coming back, so they have more options than conventional surgery.

Others and myself are taking the initial risks so they can perfect it and make it less risky.

Hell, a few of us have already died because of this type of surgery/transplant. Most recently the French woman, from two forms of cancer from the meds we take.

You think this is asking for a handout?

BuSTiNUrBallZ1 karma

Your complaining about $7000 ... from multiple surgery,s that probably cost over half a million which you didn't pay for .. But yea lets whine and shit on the DoD because of 7k

MitchHunter1 karma

7k is just the start, but I wouldn't expect you to comprehend that.

telenoobies-46 karma

dude u got a face transplant and it only costed $7000? Lol.

Whats the point of this AMA?

MitchHunter16 karma

I guess you don't see the obvious, that the DoD should be funding it all, since it still is an experiment. They footed the original 7 figure bill, would you not think they would continue to support their experiment that already costed so much?

And $7k is just the beginning.

Chosen_one1840 karma

I agree, you can't say hey we want to help you get back to somewhat normalcy by experimenting with a new procedure, but then refuse to cover the follow up treatment that's needed to maintain the procedure.

Also you stated that they won't cover it unless it's done in the hospital the surgery took place, so my question is why isn't all follow up procedures scheduled there? Or did they pull the old, we don't do that procedure at this hospital?

MitchHunter6 karma

The hospital is in Boston, I live in indiana. I'd have to fly out anytime something happened. I have a surgeon here who was on the initial team but now works at a hospital here. He takes care of the routine stuff and what not.

therealbertone-47 karma

Really dude? This is an obvious ploy to get people to pay your bills

MitchHunter17 karma

Think that if you want, but while your wasting your time with that thought, I'll be writing state reps, senators, ect. I've already wrote the DoD and am waiting for their response.

HMPoweredMan-57 karma

Why is a hospital bill an issue? Compared to what you've gotten for free, this seems like a money grab.

MitchHunter39 karma

A money grab would be me asking to get paid from the government. maybe you should think about what word to use next time.

A hospital bill that should be covered since this type of surgery is still in the experimental phase is definitely me tying to line my pockets!

Good one!

MitchHunter1 karma

Not to mention hospital bills, have you even seen the prescription costs for anti-rejection meds.