Robert Chelsea has become the first African American to receive a face transplant after waiting six years to find the skin that matches his own.
Chelsea turned down the first face doctors found for him in 2018 because the donor had fairer skin than him. As a result, he didn’t want to become a totally different looking person.
In August 2013, Robert Chelsea sat in his vehicle waiting for his overheated car to cool down on the side of a Los Angeles freeway. Then a drunk driver swerved into the left-hand shoulder where he sat. His car engulfed in flames, covering about half of his body in a third-degree burn.
In July 2018, it took a team of 45 doctors and nurses 18 hours of surgeries and skin grafts to save Chelsea’s life. Thereafter, the tissue of his lips, left ear, part and part of his nose died, leaving his face disfigured for the last six years. A grant from the Department of Defense paid for the procedure.
Dr Bondah Pomahac (left) is the plastic surgeon who led the transplant team. He said that Chelsea, 64, recovered extremely quickly despite being the oldest person ever to receive a new face.
With Chelsea’s surgery, he has been given a second chance to live and enjoy life in a skin he is very comfortable in.