An Indiana veteran whose face was disfigured after saving a woman during a 2001 car accident is much happier these days thanks to a life-transformative face transplant.
After five minutes of being zapped by 10,000 volts of electricity as he helped save a woman's life, 35-year-old Mitchell Hunter’s face and legs were severely injured in 2001.
"I look back on it as something that made me stronger," Hunter said. "I mean, yeah I would like to have my leg and my face back, but without that happening, I wouldn't be who I am today."
Still, for nearly 10 years, Hunter struggled with other people’s stares.
“Imagine walking into a room and like falling, and everybody noticing. That’s how it was every time I walked in a room because of the way my face looked,” he said, WISH-TV reports.
As a result of losing sensation in his face, he could not feel the simple pleasures of life, like his children’s kisses.
In 2011, his luck finally changed for the better when he was granted permission to get a full-face transplant.
Hunter captured international attention when he became the second person to receive a full-face transplant in the United States in 2011, CNN reports.
Yet it took until 2016 for him to discuss his experiences before and after the surgery.
"It's a lot easier going out in public. I don't get the stares. I'm just another face in the crowd, and that's all I ever wanted,” he said.
Now he has a full-time job and lives a far more normal life.
"When I leave the house, it's just a normal routine. I get up, take a shower, get my car keys, leave, go to the store. It feels nice being a regular human being and having a nine to five job, waking up just like the next guy and going to work,” Hunter added.
What’s more, he can finally feel things again.
"Hot, cold, pain, tickle, rubbing my beard, someone kissing my face -- I can feel everything," said Hunter. "It was amazing, just having sensation like that come back."
Hunter now encourages more people to become face-transplant donors.
"It's just knowing someone else in this world is living a better life because of a choice you made. I think that makes it worth it,” he said.