A man from California becomes the first African American to receive a face transplant after he waited for six years to find a skin that matched his own. Robert Chelsea in an interview with Time revealed that he turned down the first face that the doctors found for him in 2018 as the donor was fairer than him and he didn’t want to look like a different person.
Chelsea who in July of 2019 received a new face, talks about the challenges of face transplants and about the life-altering disparities between black and white patients in the US. He also revealed that many blacks die of diseases at higher rates than white people and are also far less likely to receive organ transplants. And for people like Chelsea who need a donor’s skin to match their own, the odds of transplant are even lesser.
He said, “May God bless the donor and his family who chose to donate this precious gift and give me a second chance. Words cannot describe how I feel. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and feel very blessed to receive such an amazing gift.” Chelsea happens to be the only black patient who received such a transplant, while he is also most unique in his singular attitude.
More than half of Chelsea body was covered in third-degree burns after a drunk driver crashed into the left-hand shoulder where Chelsea was sitting in his vehicle, which caught fire. But in July 2019, over 45 doctors and nurses worked together to give Chelsea a new face in a 16-hour surgery.
Now after his surgery, Chelsea’s face is bloomed with blood flow, colour, while even hair has begun to grow. He has also gained movement and doctors are sure that he will regain almost full sensation in his face, but the movement of his lips is likely to remain imperfect. Chelsea in his interview revealed how he hopes to kiss his 30-year-old daughter on her cheek with his new lips.