Sgt Nelson attended the BAMC holiday ball with his wife, Sarah, mere months after arriving in San Antonio from Afghanistan in a coma
Fitting: Sgt Nelson sits for an artificial ear fitting which will stay attached to his head by magnetsDetonated: The bomb that shattered his face and vehicle occurred just 45 days before the end of his tour in Afghanistan 'All I could think to myself was, ‘I guess I can live with this.’ Because I felt fortunate just to be alive,' he says. But four years and 43 surgeries later -- that he says he knows of -- he has accomplished the very minimum of his desires. 'I wanted my eyelids to close, I wanted to be able to breathe through my nose and I wanted to be able to eat a good-sized hamburger too,' he describes.
Surgeons were able to provide him with a prosthetic eye, ear and build him a right eyelid over the one he had lost.But while synthetic skin, pig skin and cadaver skin did manage to cover successfully in grafts across his face, he has yet to get the nose he most desires, one with any kind of bridge to it. Artificial life: A doctor displays the artificial right ear made for Sgt Nelson He will also require a lifetime of immuno-suppression treatment in order for the skin to stay. 'Once they stop that medicine, whatever body part you gave them from somebody else will be rejected,' Dr. Robert G. Hale, director of head, jaw and face research (or craniomaxillofacial) at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, explained to the Huffington Post.
'I had been in the military at that point 17 years and you really learn to roll with the punches' Sgt Nelson says though on his dedicated service prior to the roadside blast.But adding to a question of whether he holds regret or anger to his circumstances, he answers, 'no. This is the best country it could have ever happen to you in.'
Afghanistan: Sgt. Nelson shown in uniform prior to the roadside blast that nearly killed himAfter the world's first facial transplant in France in 2005, the US Defence Department has funded all five of the following American transplants using a $3.4 million grant. It's a recovery Sgt Nelson says has provided him with some of the best skin a burn-victim could receive, he's most grateful for, though he's taken a break from while waiting with many others as the science and technology improves. Some of the work soon expected is human-engineered skin as well as spray-on skin developed from a patient's very own stem cells. 'Twenty years from now, I think we will be able to regenerate the entire face,' Dr Hale says. But Sgt Nelson says 'life is too short to live for the weekends,' instead pursuing a college degree in education, buying his first Harley Davidson motorcycle and attributing his religious faith for carrying him through this. When it comes to war, he says, 'you really learn that you are out of control. That this life is not in your control, so you turn to your faith. And that prepared me for this.' Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050200/US-Solider.html#ixzz1rqDprB2Z