Mother meets the man who received her dead son's face transplant

Nancy Millar was very close to her only son, David. When he was just 26, David got into a fatal accident while riding a bike in New York.

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Nancy collapsed when she heard the news; she could hardly bear it. Her pain was indescribable. At the time, she didn't realize that her son was an organ donor and that his legacy would soon be to change lives. In fact, doctors proposed to attempt a face transplant that would greatly benefit a man named Pat Hardison.

Pat used to be a firefighter in Mississippi. In 2001, he got caught in the middle of a building during a fire.

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Much of his skin was completely burnt, scarring his face horribly. His eyes, face, ears, and nose were nearly melted away; when he first looked in the mirror after the fire, Pat thought it would've been better to die than to live with this face.

Youtube /CBS Evening News

He couldn't see his grandchildren, because they were scared of him. He became deeply depressed and felt lost for 15 years.

Then he got word that he could get a face graft from David. The operation lasted 26 hours and cost nearly $1,000,000. The procedure was a huge success.

Youtube /CBS Evening News

Nancy heard about Pat's story and the two decided to meet. For the first time since her son's death, she was going to see his face. She didn't know how she would react.

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When Pat arrived, she couldn't hold back her tears. She could see her son's face before her own eyes once again.

Pat and Nancy didn't know what to say — what words could do this moment justice — but they fell into each others arms.

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Then, Nancy noticed something tiny on Pat's forehead: a small scar left from when David had chickenpox.

"May I kiss your forehead?" she asked and Pat agreed.

Youtube/ABC News

I am as proud of you as I was of my own son. Its not Davids face, its your face now.

And indeed, Pat has come back to life. He can finally hold his grandchildren in his arms once again and walk down the street without being followed by stares. He's been offered a new life!

Here's a video of the moment they met:

Organ donation and medical technology can make amazing things happen. Thanks to David's generosity, his mother got to see some deeper meaning in her son's passing. Sometimes there can be a ray of light in the darkest of tragedies.

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