MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Mayo Clinic doctor is sharing the story of a remarkable face transplant done last summer.

Andy Sandness tried to kill himself in 2006 at the age of 21. The attempt failed, leaving him with most of his face destroyed.

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“The mouth was open to the outside,” said Dr. Samir Mardini, a surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

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He told WCCO’s Roshini Rajkumar the hospital reached out to Sandness in 2012, asking if he’d be interested in a face transplant, calling it a risky and complicated procedure.

“It’s a huge endeavor, and you don’t want the patient to wake up and not know what’s coming next,” he said.

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Sandness was on a waiting list, expecting it to take years, but just months later, after a Minnesota man committed suicide, they had a donor.

During the 56 hour surgery, the 60-person team was able to transplant the donor’s nose, cheeks, mouth, lips, and chin onto Sandness.

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Now, Sandness is enjoying his new face…and his new teeth.

“He hadn’t had teeth in 10 years,” Mardini said. “It’s been a huge deal for him. Being able to chew a steak, he hasn’t been able to do that in years.”

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Beside teeth, he now can taste, breathe and smell as he could before the surgery. The doctor says he’s finally enjoying being able to blend into the crowd.