A man who claims to have had the world’s first face and double hand transplant after a horrible incident that covered 80% of his body in third-degree burns has revealed he has found love five years after the accident.
Joe DiMeo is a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, US, who suffered third-degree burns across 80% of his body and had his fingertips amputated when his Dodge Challenger crashed and exploded in July 2018.
After the accident, DiMeo stayed in the hospital for months, where he underwent 20 reconstructive plastic surgeries and skin grafts before medics at New York University’s Langone medical center performed a 23-hour-long face and bilateral hand transplant surgery on him in August 2020.
DiMeo’s face was donated by a stroke victim who died at the age of 48.
After reading his inspirational story about he didn’t give up despite going through so much, Jessica Koby, 32, sent a message to Joe on his Instagram.
The couple quickly got along and bonded over their mutual love for Boston Terriers dogs. After getting into a long-distance relationship, Jessica relocated to New Jersey to be closer to Joe.
“We developed a relationship initially long distance, and then I moved from southern California to be closer to him and it has been great ever since,” Koby who works as a nurse told SWNS.
“He is a pretty quiet guy so at first when you’re just getting to know him he keeps to himself and just observes his surroundings. He is very knowledgeable and anyone he talks to he can carry a conversation with.”
“I really like that about him because I think that someone who is educated and speaks well is very attractive. I love that he is gentle, kind and he is so courageous,” she added. “For everything he has gone through, he remains so positive and such a light.”
The pair has an age difference of eight years between them, but they get along really well, and Jessica thinks Joe is really funny and intelligent at the same time.
“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.”
Due to his extensive therapy, Joe is now independent again, and he is able to drive on his own.
“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,” he said. “Nothing has changed besides my skin. Now it’s really just amazing getting independence again.”
“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 can drive again. I just drive my girlfriend’s Subaru Crosstrek. I don’t have my own car yet.”
“I didn’t really think I could motivate people until someone DM’d me saying ‘you saved me from suicide,’” he told the outlet.
DiMeo said the he often received messages from burnt people on social media seeking advice on how to cope.
“I just tell them to just keep acting how you’ve always acted. You’ll find out who your real friends are doing that. It’s way easier said than done, and I always say that too.”
Speaking about his donor, who was almost double his age, Joe said he did not feel weird when he was given the face of someone nearly twice his age, as he just wanted to start his life all over again.
“This is who I am now and I came to terms with that quite quickly really. My donor was a 48-year-old stroke victim from Delaware who died two days before my surgery. That’s literally all I know because the doctors flat out refused to tell me any more.”
“I’ve never had any contact from his family or friends or anyone who knew him. I even wanted a guy or a girl just to make the process faster,” he said.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.