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Groundbreaking Face & Eye Transplant Gives Electrocuted Lineman A New Lease On Life

Left image shows a lineman leaning out of a high-rise bucket during line repairs. Right image shows Aaron James holding his wife's hand in the hospital after a near-fatal accident.

Aaron James is a lineman. He is the savior we pray for during an electrical outage and the hero we worship when the power returns. It is a dangerous job. He served with the Army National Guard in Kuwait, Egypt, and Iraq and is no stranger to danger. On a fateful day in June 2021, Aaron James was working to transfer lines from one pole to another in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He touched a live wire. As much as 7,500 volts of electricity shot through his body. The results were devastating. Some images we are including and those in the video below might seem graphic and may be alarming.

The good news is that Aaron James has undergone an innovative medical procedure. With the support of his family and friends and an excellent medical crew, he is on the way to recovery. The family credits their ability to maintain a good sense of humor for mental health during Aaron’s recovery. His wife, Meagan, and daughter, Allie, have been by his side throughout the ordeal. Aaron said during an interview with People, “Every day we would laugh about something. We’ve had to have a pretty good sense of humor through this whole thing. That’s really what’s got us through all this.”

Left image shows Aaron James after his accident. Right image shows him after the partial face and eye transplant.
Image from YouTube.

Aaron’s injuries include the loss of his left arm above the elbow and damage to his face, including the loss of his lips, nose, left eye, and front teeth. His chin was gone down to the bone, and he also lost 20 percent of his tongue. He doesn’t remember any of the accident, which is fortunate. He remembers working that day and then waking up in the hospital six weeks later.

Aaron James’ Surgery Is A Breakthrough Case

In the first-ever human eye transplant, Aaron has a new lease on life. The lead physician is Dr. Edwardo D. Rodriguez, MD, DDS, who worked with a team of 140 surgeons, nurses, and specialists. Tissue donations came from a single donor in his 30s who also donated to three other recipients. The surgery at NYU Langone Health is the only successful transplant like this (so far).

Image shows the James family walking on a path in a park after Aaron James' life-changing surgery.
Image from YouTube.

The initial surgery took 21 hours. When discussing the surgery with CBS News, Aaron said, “It just blows my mind. I tell everybody, if I get close to a mirror, I just stare at it. … Now I want to go outside and let people see me, you know?” Aaron was hesitant to be seen in public without a mask before the surgery but loves being outside now.

While sight is not fully restored in the new eye, doctors have noted good blood flow and the response of light receptors to stimuli. That is a good sign that the eye transplant was successful. Though it is doubtful that Aaron will ever regain full sight in that eye, the team is hopeful for continuing improvement.

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You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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