Complete Strangers, a Miracle Face Transplant, Two Lives Transformed
Simon & Schuster
On Sale: October 12, 2010
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Joseph Helfgot, the son of Holocaust survivors, worked his
way from a Lower East Side tenement to create a successful
Hollywood research company. But his heart was failing. After
months of waiting for a heart transplant, he died during the
Hours after his death, his wife Susan was
asked a shocking question: would she donate her husband’s
face to a total stranger?
The stranger was James
Maki, the adopted son of parents who spent part of World War
II in an internment camp for Japanese Americans. Rebelling
against his stern father, a professor, by enlisting to serve
in Vietnam, he returned home a broken man, addicted to
drugs. One night he fell facedown onto the electrified third
rail of a Boston subway track.
A young Czech surgeon
who was determined to make a better life on the other side
of the Iron Curtain was on call when the ambulance brought
Maki to the hospital. Although Dr. Bohdan Pomahac gave him
little chance of survival, Maki battled back. He was sober
and grateful for a second chance, but he became a recluse, a
man without a face. His only hope was a controversial face
transplant, and Dr. Pomahac made it happen.
The Match, Susan Whitman Helfgot captures decades of
drama and history, taking us from Warsaw to Japan, from New
York to Hollywood. Through wars and immigration, poverty and
persecution, from a medieval cadaver dissection to a
stunning seventeen-hour face transplant, she weaves together
the story of people forever intertwined—a triumphant legacy
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