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Man who had world’s first successful face and double hand transplant finds love

Anish Vij

Published 
| Last updated 

The man who claims to have had the 'world's first face and double hand transplant' from a donor twice his age finds love five years later.

Joe DiMeo suffered a horror incident when his Dodge Challenger crashed and burst into flames in July 2018.

The now 24-year-old was left with third degree burns to 80 percent of his body and had his fingertips amputated.

He underwent 20 reconstructive plastic surgeries and spent 23 hours in August 2020 having the pioneering surgery.

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Joe before the accident. Credit: SWNS
Joe before the accident. Credit: SWNS

His new face was from a 48-year-old male stroke victim.

Five years later, Joe has found love with girlfriend Jessica Koby, 32, who got together after she sent him an Instagram message two years ago, when she read about his story.

Joe, from New Jersey, said: "It didn't feel weird being given the face of someone nearly twice my age because I was just completely ready to start my life again.

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"This is who I am now and I came to terms with that quite quickly really.

"When I was burnt I was not looking for love but I was always confident it would happen eventually because I am the same on the inside.

"Nothing has changed besides my skin.

"Now it's really just amazing getting independence again.

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“After surgery I was like at 0% – I couldn’t really do anything.

“Now I feel like I’m at 50%. I can cook, clean, do laundry and I can move my phone better.

“I didn’t really think I could motivate people until someone DM’d me saying ‘you saved me from suicide.'"

The man who claims to have had the 'world's first face and double hand transplant' from a donor twice his age finds love five years later. Credit: SWNS
The man who claims to have had the 'world's first face and double hand transplant' from a donor twice his age finds love five years later. Credit: SWNS
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Joe and Jessica’s relationship blossomed as they bonded over their shared love for Boston Terrier dogs – and they now share Buster, six, and Kirkland, seven.

Jessica, a nurse, said: “For everything he has gone through, he remains so positive and such a light.

"I love Joe inside and out because he is a funny guy, he knew what he wanted in life and was very mature for his age."

Joe’s accident happened when he fell asleep at the wheel on his way home from a night shift working in a food testing laboratory in July 2018 in Hillside, New Jersey.

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It took a team of 140 surgeons, nurses and support staff at NYU Langone hospital in New York City to pull off the pioneering surgery in August 2020 – which had only been attempted twice before.

Joe and Jessica’s relationship blossomed as they bonded over their shared love for Boston Terrier dogs. Credit: SWNS
Joe and Jessica’s relationship blossomed as they bonded over their shared love for Boston Terrier dogs. Credit: SWNS

Joe added: “I’m 6”1’ and wide and then on top of that I wear short sleeves a lot of the time so you can see my burnt arms.

“So I don’t mind people staring because I would stare too.

“I could do a pity party but that’s just not me.

“I’m writing a book so I want to get that out, we’re looking at houses because our apartment is just too small for us right now, and I’d like to get my own car.

“I’ll be on medication for the rest of my life. I take like 15 pills a day.

“The main three just prevent my transplants from being rejected and the rest are just electrolytes that all the transplant meds take away."

Topics: US News, Health, Sex and Relationships

Anish Vij
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