For 14 years firefighter Patrick Hardison had to deal with stares from strangers and fear from his own children after he was horrifically injured in a mobile home fire.
But a year ago, he was given a new lease of life after receiving a full-face transplant during a grueling 26-hour procedure in New York.
Now, Hardison says, he no longer has to endure the daily humiliation he suffered, telling CBS: 'Now I'm just the average guy walking down the street.' He added: 'People - they can look at me and tell something's happened, but they would never look at me and think that I’d had a face transplant.
Asked if it has ever felt so good to be ignored, he replied: 'No, sir. No it hasn't.
Hardison was 27 when, back in September 2001, he attended the house fire that was to change his life forever.
He and his crew were called to a blaze inside a mobile home in Senatobia, Mississippi, with reports that a woman was trapped inside.
Hardison entered the home and began the search, but then the ceiling collapsed on him, trapping him inside.
The heat caused his protective mask to melt on to his face, with no way to extinguish the flames since his hose had already disintegrated.
Hardison spent 63 days in hospital and was given the semblance of a face with flesh taken from his thighs. He had lost his ears, lips, most of his nose and virtually all of his eyelid tissue. Because of this, he was unable to see properly.
When he returned home, he recalled how his three young children, Alison, six, Dalton, three and Averi, two, were terrified of him.
He told ABC: 'My kids were scared of me. You can't blame them. They're young kids.'
It took more than 100 surgeons, nurses and assistants more than 26 hours to complete the procedure, which Hardison was warned only had a 50 per cent chance of survival.
Now, 12 months on, Hardison's body has adjusted to having the facial tissue attached, and has not rejected the transplant.
While there are still many more hurdles left to conquer, for the time being Hardison is getting back to the life he lost out on for 14 long years.
He said: 'Normal has become a reality over the year. Normal was something I never thought I’d see again.'