Aaron James experienced a life-altering transformation following a severe injury that left him in excruciating pain and robbed him of his independence. Thanks to the remarkable efforts of his doctors, he's now on the path to reclaiming a semblance of normalcy through a groundbreaking eye transplant.
In 2021, Aaron James endured a harrowing incident, suffering severe injuries in a high-voltage electrical accident that resulted in the loss of half his face due to electrocution. He recently underwent a groundbreaking surgery, making him the first person worldwide to receive a complete eye transplant.
Hailing from Hot Springs, Arkansas, James inadvertently came into contact with a live wire, enduring a life-threatening 7,200-volt electric shock.
The accident left the 46-year-old with agonizing injuries, including the loss of his left eye, his entire nose, lips, front teeth, left cheek area, and chin down to the bone. He also lost his left arm above the elbow.
In a medical milestone, James underwent a rare and extensive surgery in May of this year, lasting approximately 21 hours.
A team of over 140 healthcare professionals from NYU Langone Health performed the world's first combined transplant, involving the entire left eye and a portion of the face from a single donor.
While it remains uncertain if James will regain his vision, the surgical team is encouraged by the transplanted eye's has 'shown remarkable signs of health'.
"Aaron has been extremely motivated to regain the function and independence he lost after his injury. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect patient," commented Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, a prominent surgeon involved in the procedure.
"The mere fact that we've accomplished the first successful whole-eye transplant with a face is a tremendous feat many have long thought was not possible."
"We've made one major step forward and have paved the way for the next chapter to restore vision."
Following the tragic accident, James experienced a significant loss of independence, faced difficulties with eating, and ultimately had to undergo the removal of his eye due to the excruciating pain.
Upon his release from the surgery, which incorporated 3D printing technology for his face, he embarked on a path of rehabilitation, encompassing physical, occupational, and speech therapy sessions.
"I'm grateful beyond words for the donor and his family, who have given me a second chance at life during their own time of great difficulty. I hope the family finds solace in knowing that part of the donor lives on with me."
"I will also forever be thankful to Dr Rodriguez and his team for changing my life. My family and I wouldn't have been able to navigate this difficult journey without their expertise and support."
He shared with NBC News: "I just look like a normal person walking down the street."