Widow meets man given dead husband's face in transplant
Andy Sandness tried to end his life with a rifle in 2006, leaving him disfigured.
A grieving young mum has felt her late husband's face again for the first time after it was transplanted to a man who survived a suicide attempt 10 years ago.
Lilly Ross's husband Calen "Rudy" Ross took his own life last year in southern Minnesota while she was expecting their son.
She agreed to donate his organs and body while eight months pregnant.
Sixteen months later she and her son Leonard have met the recipient, Andy Sandness, whose face had been destroyed in his attempt to end his life with a rifle in 2006.
He had lived with a partially rebuilt face that left him with a quarter-size mouth and a prosthetic nose that kept falling off until his 56 hours of surgery at a US clinic.
More than 60 medics were involved in the surgery after doctors at the Mayo Clinic noted the men were a near-perfect match, with similar ages, blood type, colour and facial structure.
Lilly admitted to Andy she had been "scared" to see him for the first time and was relieved to see his eyes and forehead meant he was no doppleganger of her high school sweetheart.
But she was stunned when she ran her fingers across his beard.
"The hair even feels like Rudy's hair, it's so weird," she said.
Lilly showed Andy photo albums of happier times with her late partner while introducing her son to him.
After a successful first meeting she wants Andy to play a role in Leonard's life so her son can know the man who has his father's face.
"He's pretty much family," she said.
The oilfield electrician said he wants to contribute towards an education trust fund for Leonard.
He says he's indebted to the Ross family.
"You basically have an obligation now to show them that this has given you everything you ever wanted," he said.
Andy says the transplant has transformed his life.
"You can stand in the elevator and not have to hide your face because you're scared that you're scaring other people," he said.
"Now I'm able to go chew food, go sit down in restaurants. It's been unbelievable."