Two families were forever changed when the Mayo Clinic performed its first successful face transplant last year. They recently had the chance to meet in person.
Lilly Ross was eight months pregnant with her second child when her high school sweetheart took his own life. Her husband, Calen “Rudy” Ross, was an organ donor.
She told CBS News that her husband’s passing happened so quickly it felt like she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.Mayo Clinic
Lilly agreed to donate her husband’s major organs after he passed. Then, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, a nonprofit organization called LifeSource asked if the family would be willing to donate for a face transplant.
A man named Andy Sandness was on the wait list for the new Mayo Clinic face transplant procedure. His surgeon noted that the two men were so closely matched that they could’ve been cousins.
Lilly reluctantly agreed, although she expressed concern about seeing her husband’s face again on another person.
After a 56-hour surgery, which the Mayo Clinic documented in a video, Sandness’s face transplant was completed. Within weeks, Sandness found new confidence that he had lost after trying to commit suicide a decade earlier.
He received a promotion at his job, and he started dating again,
More than anything, he wanted to meet the family of the person who donated his face so he could rebuild his life.
Sandness requested a meeting through the Mayo Clinic, and he was able to meet Lilly in October. Before the meeting, both parties were nervous.
But Lilly told the Mayo Clinic that as soon as she saw Sandness, her fears subsided:
“You can see Rude with the chin because you can’t grow hair in the middle, too. And he’s got the flush cheeks, and he’s got a little mole on his nose. Otherwise, I see Andy. I don’t see much of Rude in him.”
Lilly asked if she could touch his face, and Sandness obliged. She was happy her husband could help Sandness achieve his goals in life, and in return she said, “It has finally given me closure.”
Watch the full report via “CBS Evening News” below.