KIPS BAY, Manhattan —
He’s one of the youngest face transplant recipients in the world and one of the fastest to recover.
Cameron Underwood, 26, from Northern California, has been undergoing a radical transformation just 18 months after nearly taking his own life.
WATCH: ABC News 20/20’s inspiring profile:
Underwood, struggling with depression, had put a gun under his chin and pulled the trigger.
He did not think he would be given a second chance, but in a 25-hour surgery at NYU Langone Health, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez performed a face transplant, in which Cam, as he’s called, got an entirely new lower face.
It is a face that he says still feels like him.
“Most of the time, when you look in the mirror, you look at yourself in the eyes,” he said. “And my eyes are the same.”
The remarkable family of a donor, a 23-year-old New Yorker named Will Fisher who had lost his life to mental illness, had come forward.
The connection to Dr. Rodriguez was made only after Cam’s mother happened to pick up a magazine and read about him. She then reached out.
“I think people should not feel that there is no hope,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “It should not lead to isolation. It should not lead to seclusion.”
Underwood still returns monthly for follow up appointments, and he’s on a strict regimen of anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life.
The major hurdles are now over, and Cam is reaching new heights and proving that second chances can change lives forever.
(Copyright ©2018 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)