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tv   2020  ABC  March 30, 2019 10:00pm-10:59pm PDT

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♪ >> ladies' head would turn. >> sadly, that was about to change. >> i cried every day for a year. >> his son, barely surviving a gunshot blast to the face. >> they said his face was dust. >> when i saw him in the hospital -- >> tonight on "20/20," there is something left. help in the form of a complete stranger. a stranger's face. >> a face transplant? what is a face transplant. >> when her own son dies, he makes a sacrifice.
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it was a one in a million match. >> if you die and you have something someone else can use, why wouldn't you save a life. and i thought, he can give him a face. >> you have no idea what it means. >> you have no idea what it means to us. >> two mothers, two sons and a nonstop 25-hour operation to bring one face back to life. >> what will the end result be when they finally come face to face. >> you look beautiful. >> i'm curious as a mother what it means like to know your son's face is a part of another human body? >> good evening. i'm amy robach. >> i'm david muir. this is "20/20." it may seem like out of science fiction but it's reality. and you witnessed the entire thing. >> yeah, over the past six
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months, we have seen the amazing miraculous transformation you are about to see in the face of one young man. it's remarkable seeing and knowing what you've been through. can you walk us through what you got from will and what you were able to keep? >> i'm on the top part. so it starts right here and it goes down and then everything under is will's. >> reporter: it's one of the most unusual questions i've ever posed to anyone. asking a young man for a guided tour of the features of his face. so when you look in the mirror, what do you see? >> me? i see me. >> reporter: but before 26-year-old cameron underwood wants the world to see the me he sees, he first wants you to understand how his former face and the face of another young man he never knew became one. how together, cam was given a second chance at life. >> so much of this story is not
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anything that anyone would ever prepare for in their life. >> it's unimaginable, like you said, how did this happen? >> reporter: cam's mom, bev bailey potter, believes god put her on earth to be a wife and mother -- her greatest joy. her four children, the oldest, julie and then the three boys, aaron, brad and her youngest, cam. >> they were just so close and i always took pride in that. >> i think there's a bond between the three of us that's different than any other brother bond i've ever seen. >> reporter: a close knit family grounded in their faith. cam's grandfather founded the united pentacostal church in the northern california agricultural community of yuba city. >> faith is the essence of everything in our family. without that foundation, i think this journey would've been a lot
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more difficult. >> reporter: hunting is religion for cam and the underwoods as well. >> we're really an outdoors >> he grew up on the lake. he was natural athlete. he was good. >> show me the game ball. >> he is gifted in so many areas, so many ways. >> cool, son. >> he was easy. he was always quiet. a little more on the shy side but just a wonderful spirit about him, easy going. >> but by the first time he gets to high school, his spirit isn't what people notice about him. it's his face. cam was a hand some boy. >> his smile would light up his face and it was so evident in his eyes. he was just a handsome boy!
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>> women started noticing him more and more and more. we would walk into places and you know, ladies' heads would turn. >> reporter: but for cam, there's only one girlfriend. >> i would say he was in love with her for sure. >> reporter: the couple date for years after high school. planning a future, cam starts working in his step father's business. heavy equipment repair. he made so much money, he bought his own house at the age of 19. but the family says cam becomes a workaholic, pushing himself. working too hard and playing hard too. >> you know we'd call each other, we'd meet up usually at cam's house and go and drink some beers. it started out it was fun. you're 21, everyone drinks and goes and has a good time. >> reporter: but cam isn't everyone. his mom bev says even with everything going for him, that bright light that had always shone in cam's eyerin, self-sufficient and yet at some point you noticed something
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dark. >> you know, i have a clear memory in my mind. i saw him walk across the parking lot and he just looked so sad and so empty. i just thought, what's he going through? is he unhappy? >> reporter: turns out, he is. the family says cam kept his loved ones completely in the dark, rarely showing his emotions, even as the life he counted on was falling apart. like when he and his girlfriend broke up. >> i think being with somebody for that long, obviously there's a huge gap left in your life now. i know he started going out more and, you know, partying a little more at that time. >> reporter: and over the next cohorthadrd art.nd his closest drinking buddy kevin started a
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family of his own and both his older brothers now had new jobs and moved out of state. what impact did their absence have on cam, his best friends? >> huge. >> he was alone? >> he was alone. >> reporter: well, not completely alone. >> i spent more time with cam than anybody, yeah. we were together nearly seven days a week. this is cam's uncle lonnie who admits a big part of their togetherness involved drinking, a lot of drinking. >> bev was concerned about cam and i, our relationship, as far as the alcohol and everything else. >> did you know that cam was drinking too much? >> yes. yes, i did. and i was worried. >> reporter: but less obvious is the underlying depression. still it's a shock when cam not so subtly hints he's thinking of taking his own life. >> he didn't like spell it out, s anngbut i mean it was
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very a understand his father at one point removed the guns from cam's home. >> because i asked him to. >> when i went over and got his guns, because his mom said he was talking about killing himself, i never thought he would go that far. >> turns out cam's father randy removed all the guns. all, but one. a shotgun cam kept in his safe. which brings us to a sunday night that june. >> i get a text from cam. it's like hey why don't you just come down and stay the night? i'm like okay. i got to his house and all the lights were on, which i expected, door was unlocked. i walked in, nobody in the living room and i figured he was probably in the bedroom. >> reporter: lonnie walks into that bedroom and into a nistaggering against the
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wall. >> i think that is probably the point i went into shock. >> reporter: cam had put a shotgun under his chin and pulled the trigger. he is rushed to the hospital. >> do you remember what you were thinking? >> i was praying is what i was doing. that's what i was doing. >> reporter: coming up -- those prayers would be answered. cam would not die. he would instead be reborn in a way no one could have imagined. stay with us. e from my copd medicine... ...that's why i've got the power of 1-2-3 medicines with trelegy. the only fda-approved 3-in-1 copd treatment. ♪ trelegy. the power of 1-2-3 ♪ trelegy 1-2-3 trelegy with trelegy and the power of 1-2-3, i'm breathing better. trelegy works 3 ways to... airways,... ...keep them open...
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sunday, june 26th, 12:17 am. mom calls and says cam shot himself and they're headed rideout. >> reporter: cam underwood's sister julie started writing in a diary as her brother's life was hanging in the balance at rideout memorial hospital. even now her written words are hard to fathom. >> doctors tell my parents cam's and that if he even lives, he will not see or talk. >> reporter: the 24-year-old put a loaded shot gun to his chin, an attempt to take his own life. but it didn't work. >> the blast, which commonly happens in these scenarios, before the projectile comes out of a firearm, there's usually pressure fire. that usually is enough to deflect the face.
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and that's why most individuals that attempt this miss their brain. >> reporter: in the aftermath, searing words from the emergency room doctors. >> they were not very gentle with us. >> they said there was nothing left. >> they said his face was dust, and he would not make it. >> they told us he had no tongue, no teeth, no chin, no cheekbones, no facial structure. nothing! >> they asked us if we wanted to go in and see our son. how do you go in and look at your son when there is nothing left? >> reporter: how do you prepare yourself as a mom to see that? >> i don't know. hoping that you're dreaming and you wake up and it was all a nightmare. that's what you hope for. >> reporter: the reality, incomprehensible. his face, so gruesome, we've elected not to show you some of the photos the family gave us. >> it wasn't really a face, you know. it was pretty horrific. >> reporter: so horrific, they move cam to a top trauma
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facility, uc davis medical center. >> it took our breath away when cameron came into the unit. it was so devastating. >> reporter: and incredibly, it appears cam will survive after all. but survive with a fate perhaps worse than death. how do you live without a face? >> there's no plastic surgery that could ever make him look completely normal again. he's gonna have to live the rest of his life looking and feeling like a monster. >> reporter: renowned plastic surgeon dr. lee pu does what he can to sustain life, implanting 12 titanium plates to keep what's left of cam's shattered skull intact. >> i took a titanium plate and plate his nose, interorbirtal rim, mid face, upper jaw. >> reporter: he can't breathe or eat on his own. cam was alive. but how could he ever really
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live? >> i cried every day for a year. every single day. >> i would've changed places with him any day. i would've taken his pain any day, but i couldn't. >> what kind of quality of life would he have, if he didn't want to live with all that he had going for him? then why would he want to continue on now? >> reporter: it was six months before cam could leave the hospital, and even then, he would wear a mask everywhere he went. >> and i would see people stare at him and he would notice that. the worst part was the little kids, kind of hide or stare at him and hang on to mom and dad because he looked so pitiful. >> reporter: but then cam's doctor, dr. pu, uttered the words would change cam's fate forever. though at first, they sounded more like science fiction than >> i'm thinking, face transplant? you know, can they actually --
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what is a face transplant? >> we had never heard of such a thing ever. >> reporter: and no sooner did bev find herself at the checkout counter of her local grocery store, coincidentally thumbing through this issue of "people" magazine. how fated was that? >> and it wasn't on anything on the outside of the cover that caught my attention.. >> reporter: the article inside about a face transplant. it was the same story that abc news "nightline" had already covered. the story of patrick hardison, a mississippi fireman who was horribly disfigured trying to rescue a woman from her burning home. >> the ceiling collapsed, and i could just see everything coming down. >> reporter: like ca bis rsnoeyids and lips we gone. was then the most extensive face transplant ever done. >> i'm saying, get me back as
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normal looking as you can. >> reporter: the operation took 26 hours. this was the amazing transformation! all made possible, because of a donor. a reminder that one man's mortality is another man's miracle. so, it's no wonder. as soon as bev learns about that story -- >> a face transplant. it's like something out of a movie. so you pick up this magazine, and you see the name dr. rodriguez. >> reporter: all she can think of is what dr. rodriguez might mean for her son. >> and so i decided that i would go ahead and send an email to dr. rodriguez. >> reporter: but cam will first have to prove he wants a second chance at life. >> there was reluctance because of the concern to take away his life during a bout of depression. >> reporter: the fact that he >c
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>> reporter: because he attempted suicide. coming up, convincing a savior you're worth saving. stay with us. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ about 50% of people with evesevere asthma k? have too many cells called eosinophils in their lungs. eosinophils are a key cause of severe asthma. fasenra is designed to target and remove these cells. fasenra is an add-on injection for people 12 and up with asthma driven by eosinophils.
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>> reporter: long before dr. eduardo rodriguez took over the renowned plastic surgery program at nyu langone medical center in new york, when he was just a student, he went to see a movie. watching john travolta trade his face for nicholas cage's in the 1997 sci-fi crime drama "face
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off." >> so you want to take his face and mine -- >> borrow. >> reporter: rodriguez had no idea he was seeing a kind of preview of his own career. >> as a matter of fact i thought, "that's impossible." no one thinks of that movie as real or even happening in the near future. i never thought about that. >> reporter: if face transplants were long shots back then, you might say rodriguez was too. in fact, when he first applied to medical school from his hometown of miami he didn't get in. >> i was not gonna give up. i had to do something to take care of patients. >> reporter: so he initially went to dental school and eventually landed at the prestigious johns hopkins in baltimore. in an amazing coincidence, dr. rodriguez just happened to be there in 2000, as abc news cameras captured a remarkable moment, a plastic surgery resident quitting on camera. >> her colleagues are stunned to learn that she is resigning as a doctor at hopkins. >> and i interviewed for that position and i got it.
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>> reporter: as he progressed in the field, learning skills to reshape bodies, he started seeing soldiers returning home from combat in afghanistan and iraq with horrific facial injuries, far beyond what plastic surgery could fix. >> imagine looking in the mirror every day without a normal face. >> it doesn't look like you. >> no, it's a complete identity crisis. but the face is the only part of the body you cannot conceal. you can't hide it. it's such an important part of our body. what defines us, what people see for the first time. without a normal face, it's not living. >> reporter: in 2012, dr. rodriguez did his first face transplant in maryland. then he moved on to nyu, where he did his second in 2015. the one on the mississippi firefighter, the same one on "nightline" that cam's mom bev now knew about.
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>> cam's mom sent me an email. her story was very moving. >> bev sent you photographs from california. >> yes. >> of cam. what did you see in those photos? >> right away, when i saw the image, i knew that that injury there was no way i could ever make him normal with conventional surgery. >> reporter: at least on paper, cam was a potential candidate to become dr. rodriguez's third transplant patient. how do you pick then who is a candidate for a face transplant and who isn't? >> that's a very difficult question. >> reporter: a question, made more difficult when you consider that the procedure costs over a million dollars. the hard question for everyone, was cam worth it? how worried were you that he might try this again, that he might try to end his life again? w very worried about that. >> reporter: so next a 3,000-mile scouting trip of sorts to yuba city, california to meet cam and his family face-to-face. >> the fact that he actually had
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suicidal ideation, on which he tried to deliver on, act on is still a concern and something we have to talk about. >> i don't think that anybody knew that it was a test per se. i think we did understand that he had to be sure that their investment in cameron was secure and that he was not the kind of patient that would take this amazing miraculous gift and throw it away. >> this is only something we offer to select individuals. you used to race? i need to know that i have a fighter in my hands. you ever get this out to ride? >> yeah, i rode it last week. >> did you? >> yeah. >> and this person's willing to do whatever it takes to have this operation be successful. we should never give up on these individuals that go through this incident in their life. what was it about the drinking that made you feel that way? >> i really hated it that i was drinking so much. i don't need it anymore like i felt i did before.
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>> i think it's very important that people understand the severity of undergoing this operation. >> it's not a quick fix. >> no, not at all. >> reporter: for starters, a face transplant means a lifetime of treatments with harsh side effects to prevent rejection. and doctors say they just don't know enough yet to predict survival beyond ten years. >> maybe we can only promise him ten years of life. >> as a mom, though, did that give you pause? >> it did, but this was cam's decision to be made too. >> is that your truck, cam? >> that's his truck. >> reporter: by the end of the visit, both doctor and patient were on board. >> being accepted into this program is very much like winning the lottery. but instead of winning $500 million, cameron wins a second chance at life. >> we had hope for the first time. >> and that's something when you felt hopeless up until that point. >> as a mom, you want to fix things. >> reporter: but fixing things now would require one more huge
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step. how difficult is it to find a donor? >> the donor is the most difficult part of this. it's like a needle in a haystack. >> reporter: coming up -- the prerequisites for a life restored. an ideal donor would have to have the same skin tone, similar color hair, the same size skull, with a complete set of teeth. plus healthy and matching blood. turns out, somewhere in this new york haystack there is a needle. a young man with more in common with cam than anyone could have predicted. stay with us. [ "werk it" by mama haze ] ♪ watch me werk it now ♪ woo ♪ baby do you like the way i werk it now? ♪ ♪ baby come on and let me show you how ♪ ♪ werk it now ♪ werk it now ♪ werk it now ♪ baby watch me werk it like ♪ werk it now, werk it now, woo ♪ ♪ werk it now ♪ baby watch me werk it like
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♪ i'm a big kid now ♪ ♪ i'm a big kid now ♪ ♪ went from baby bottles to drinking from sippy cups ♪ ♪ went from wearing diapers to rocking these fresh pull-ups ♪ ♪ we're 50 million strong ♪ ♪ so put on your pull-ups and help us sing this song ♪ ♪ we're 50 million strong ♪ ♪ so, recently my son's band was signed by a record label. a record deal? unbelievable. whenever we're about to get on a stage for a huge audience, i always give my dad, like, a facetime kinda moment. you see the crowd, you see the emotion. you know, he has that experience for the first time with me, and that's really important to me. i created a rockstar. (both laughing) (announcer) the best network is even better when you share it. buy the latest iphone for you, and get iphone 10r on us for someone else.
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and get apple music on us, too. only on verizon. tto harrison, the wine tcollection.. grace, you get the beach house,
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just don't leave the lights on, okay? to mateo, my favorite chair. to chris, the family recipes. to craig, this rock. to jamie, well, let's just say, enjoy the ride. the redwoods to the redheads. the rainbows to the proud. the almonds to walter. the beaches to the bums. and the fog to, who else, karl. i leave these things to my heirs, all 39 million of you, on one condition. that you do everything in your power to preserve and protect them. with love, california.
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>> reporter: yuba city, california, is located near the feather river at the base of sutter buttes. referred to as the smallest mountain range in the world, but one of its sons has one especially steep mountain left
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to climb. so now you've got a doctor. you've got a procedure. you've got hope, but you need a donor. >> but we need a donor. >> what was the waiting like? >> it was tough. >> reporter: it's a kind of macabre paradox for a mother, knowing that her son's good fortune will only come at the expense and sad misfortune of another mother's son, somewhere, sometime. >> just a kid who had so much to give, and it was cut short. >> until it happens to you, you can't believe what it feels like to lose a child, especially when your child's death was preventable. >> reporter: his name was will, sally fisher's only child, whom she raised as a single mom in new york city. what was his childhood like? >> he had a pretty remarkable childhood. i mean, he was an amazing kid.
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he was extremely compassionate. he was extremely kind, and generous to a fault. >> and as a mother, i'm sure that's what you're most proud of. >> yeah. >> reporter: but it wasn't just will's spirit that made him special, she says, it was also his brilliant mind. >> his mind worked in ways that you couldn't believe. he'd do wood working one day. he'd do ceramics another day. the third day he would do chess. >> reporter: will became a child prodigy, competing in more than 200 chess tournaments. >> he won many titles. a new york state champion. the pennsylvania state championship. >> reporter: his family seeing comparisons to the legendary chess champ, and namesake of the movie "searching for bobby fischer." >> i'm not concerned about other things. like friendships. >> my sister was very worried cause she said, "look at bobby fischer. they're all insane. doesn't it worry you that he likes chess?" >> reporter: by his teen years, sally was worried about will,
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seeing him struggle. unable to connect with his peers. >> it's hard to be a kid when you have the mind of an adult. he was diagnosed with mental illness when he was in college. >> reporter: sally says the only thing worse than her son's illness was the way the world began to treat him. >> there's tremendous stigma. society disregards and discards people with mental illness. he wasn't happy. so you don't want to see your child suffer, especially suffer when you know that we're still in a situation where the illness that he has is something that the world doesn't care about. >> reporter: will had to leave college and back home in new yon psycally says eventually those prescribed
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medications weren't enough. she was fearing the worst. what were you afraid was going to happen? >> i knew he was self-medicating. >> what do you think he was doing with those drugs? masking pain? >> i think that he was trying to feel better. >> he didn't want to die? >> he didn't. i don't think he wanted to die. he said, "mommy, don't let me die." >> reporter: it was a night last december, just days shy of new year's, when will ended up in the emergency room, but once he was stabilized, the hospital wanted to discharge him. sally says she begged them not to. >> i don't think it was fair to discharge will to care for himself, when he was clearly unable to. i said, you can't. if you discharge him, he will be dead in 24 hours, and it was the next day that i walked into his room, and he was like this. slumped over, he had stopped breathing. >> reporter: this time, it would be too late to save will.
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that brilliant mind declared brain dead by the time he arrived at the hospital. >> i think there was a combination of opioids in his system, and i'm not sure which had been prescribed, but it was both prescribed and not prescribed. that's what ended his life. >> a lethal combination. >> it's just such a loss, you know. and you just can't -- you can't believe that he can't -- that he can't live his dreams. >> reporter: but what if through will someone else could? still on a breathing machine, measures were then taken to harvest will's still living precious organs. in the midst of your unimaginable grief and shock, you decided to take measures to
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make sure that will's organs could be saved to be donated. >> actually it wasn't my decision. it was will's. >> reporter: it turns out, years earlier, as a teenager, will had registered with new york state to be an organ donor. >> he wouldn't understand logically why someone wouldn't be an organ donor. >> maybe some of that compassion that you were talking about. >> yeah, if you die and you have something that somebody could use, why wouldn't you save a life? >> reporter: organ donation is one thing, but donating his face? >> it's not an ordinary thing to be asked to donate. >> no. >> reporter: dr. rodriguez says the request is a very special one, handled with utmost sensitivity. >> that's asked at a separate time. a separate consent.
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>> the idea you know a face is -- >> it's so personal. >> yeah, and especially cameron suffered his injury at the age of 23, which was the age willie was when he died, and i just thought, he can give this kid a face, and willie had a beautiful fand that this is something will would have wanted. >> reporter: when dr. rodriguez rushed from nyu to the hospital where will was, he could hardly believe what he learned. will had all the pre-requisites, skin tone, the same size skull, plus a matching blood type. but beyond those physical similarities, rodriguez couldn't believe how closely mirrored their emotional plights were as well. >> both cam and will shared commonalities in their life with issues related to depression, dependence, and we knew that these families were meant to at some point meet. >> and it felt fated to you as a
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physician. >> absolutely. >> reporter: coming up, two mothers, two troubled sons, and one miracle in the making. >> you have no idea what this means. >> you have no idea what this means to us. >> what this means to my son! >> what did she say to you? >> she's thanking us. >> reporter: stay with us. with this one little nexgard chew comes power, confidence, reassurance you're doing what's right to protect your dog from fleas and ticks for a full month. this one little nexgard chew is the #1 vet recommended protection. and it's the only chew fda approved to prevent infections that cause lyme disease. plus, it's safe for puppies. there's a lot of power in this one little nexgard chew. nexgard. what one little chew can do.
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january 5th, 2018. cam's day of renewal has come. as they arrive at nyu langone medical center, an unplanned and highly emotional encounter in the lobby with will's mother, sally. >> welcome to new york. thank god for you. i'm so happy you're -- are you mom? oh, my god. thank you. >> what did she say to you? >> she's thanking us. giving this gift to us and then thanking us. >> thank you for letting my son live on. you have no idea what this means to me. >> you have no idea what this
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means to us. >> i don't think i would have survived will's death had it not been for cameron and his family. >> it was very difficult because no matter the condition of my son, i still had my son. she's lost her son. >> you're going to meet again. you'll see him on the other side. >> reporter: here's what will happen next. in one o.r., doctors will remove the lower portion of will's face, extracting what they need. will's facial muscles, nerves, jaw and teeth. in the other o.r., doctors will prep cam, removing the scarred, damaged portions of his face. only to be replaced with wills. the requisite parts of two once handsome strangers that together will become one new man. >> often people think it's just like putting on a mask. it's not that simple.
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>> reporter: it's 6:00 a.m. as bev kisses cam goodbye and he is wheeled into surgery. a team of more than 100 is ready to go in side by side operating rooms. what did you have to do to make this face transplant work for cam? >> the face needs to fit like a puzzle, and that's a tricky thing. >> reporter: that preparation alone takes more than 12 hours. the actual facial reconstruction will take just as long. >> we prayed for those doctors throughout the night. they're pulling an all nighter. none of them are leaving. >> no sleep around the clock. standing over in that operating room for 25 hours straight? >> it's hard to believe. but, there's so much adrenaline pumping through your bloodstream. those hours go by like that. normal face but to work like a normal face. >> reporter: but in the lead up to those transformational
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overnight hours, one remarkable part of the process has already been completed. there are 3d masks that you actually create -- >> yes. >> -- for you do for the donor. what is it and how and why is it done? a mask for the donor? >> when we remove the face, there's no wound to close. we have an open cavity, and that's very difficult for members of our team and our staff and our nursing in the operating room to see that individual leave the operating room with gauze throughout their face. and we are very fortunate that we have incredible technology right here on our campus at nyu where we can take 3d photography and that can be printed into a high fidelity 3d mask, which is an exact replica of the donor. >> reporter: it's a comfort to the donor's family too. >> it was nice after he had been declared dead that, even though it was only me that saw him with the mask, that i could see him. i hope that people will realize, for people who wanna have open viewings and open caskets and that kinda stuff, i mean, it looks just like will. >> reporter: dawn arrives. more than 21 grueling hours have elapsed. when dr. rodriguez waits for the critical moment in every transplant he's ever done. will the blood return to the face? >> everything is pink.
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so at this point, i'm feeling pretty good. >> reporter: blood is flowing, everything is working. a few hours later, 8:50 a.m., it's a bona fide medical marvel. >> i had prayed for that miracle every day for a year, and my son had a nose and he had a mouth and he had teeth. and it was just a happy moment. >> when you feel comfortable i want you to look at yourself. >> i remember the first time i saw myself after the transplant. >> and what was that like? >> wow. that that was breathtaking, and i was just blown away. you know? relieved and excited all you know, at the same time. >> can you walk us through what you got from will and what you were able to keep? which brings us back to where we started. only this time, cam is ready for his close up. , an gs do.'s new the eyes are min then everything under is will's.
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so that's all will, and then will's jaw and lower and upper jaw is his. >> is that will's faair then, technically? >> technically, yes. >> you should be able to feel the vibrations. >> do you see a combination of the former you and will together? >> a little bit. you know? i just see it as mine. >> reporter: these pictures show cam's remarkable progression. ten incredible months of healing. what about everything else, in terms of like breathing, smiling, all the things that faces do to make it work? i can breathe you know, though my nose, and through my mouth and smiling, you know. i can smile. >> i am shy. >> i am shy.>> iir met cspeech thap 'cause and not being able to make your body say it. i mean i'm impressed. >> it's a lot a lot of work to
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teach yourself how to talk again with a new mouth, and new teeth, and lips, and it's just like a baby trying to learn how to talk. >> part of the recovery has been extensive dental work. >> and you can see now, that his teeth are fitting perfectly. >> it's miraculous! you've come a long way even since i've met you a couple months ago, and i remember then you told me you hadn't eaten for so long. >> i want pizza. >> pizza? >> and i want a burger. i haven't had a burger yet. >> you want a burger? you forget how great it is to just actually be able to eat? >> just to let it sit in your mouth, and taste it, you know? all those little things that we thouiss anwant bk.hat you know, >> reporter: back home, cam hasf his ol back. having a catch.
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he has even gone skydiving! as great as it is, he admits there are still tough days. remember, this was once a suicidal young man. do you still struggle with depression? >> yeah. occasionally, it's not a daily fight anymore, but yeah, there are still days when you know, i feel depressed. >> reporter: but he says he knows to ask for help now when he needs it, whether that means at church or at home. >> i just want people to know that it can happen, you know? that if you're in the same kind of situation that i was in, there's people out there that can help you and will. you just have to reach out. >> what are your hopes for the future now, cam? >> that i can get back to work and you know, eventually i want a family and kids. you know, the american dream i guess. >> and now you really do have a full life ahead of you.>>epte ce inconceivable moment.
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>> reporter: since getting a new face, cam underwood has slowly but surely been getting used to being out and about. but the meeting he and his mom are heading to now is fraught with anxiety. waiting for them on this manhattan apartment patio is sally fisher. in a minute, she will once again be looking on the face of her late son, a face now belonging to someone else.
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>> i know how my heart feels. i'm just scared because it brings back the loss of my son. >> reporter: along for moral support -- the surgeon, dr. rodriguez, who made the emotional encounter possible, cam's brother aaron, and will's family. and then, the breathless moment ten months in the making unfolds. >> i'm so glad you're>>u oh, my goodness, you're the courageous one! getting my son a chance to be
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normal again. i mean he looks so fantastic! >> i know, you look beautiful. i mean, i'm a little biased but i think you're drop dead gorgeous. >> i think he is too. thank you. i think he is too. i gave her a locket that held two pictures. a fun picture of cam that i love and then a candid shot of will and i had those pictures put in the locket. >> will had a beautiful face. it would have been a tragedy for it to die with him. >> reporter: what do you want people to take away from this story? >> depression -- this ailment of depression -- it's treatable. purpose in this story is to give
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somese that hope. >> and in the case of will not just giving hope but giving life. in addition to his face, his heart, kidney, liver and eyes were also donated. >> just extraordinary. we are all rooting for cam tonight. they are really two remarkable young men and two extraordinary families to do this. thank you, amy. that is "20/20." >> and i'm amy robach. from all of us at abc news, good night.
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