Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Man who underwent first face and double hand transplant has found love years after surgery
11 July 2023, 15:41 | Updated: 11 July 2023, 17:36
A man who was given the world's first face and double hand transplant has revealed he has found love just years after his body was covered 80% in third-degree burns.
Joe DiMeo, 24, suffered horrific burns on his body when he crashed his Dodge Challenger in July 2018.
After the accident, he underwent 20 separate reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts - including a gruelling 23-hour face and hand transplant.
His face was donated by a stroke victim who died at 48 - and when Jessica Koby, 32, heard of Joe's ordeal, she was inspired by his attitude and sent him an Instagram message.
The pair hit it off over their love of Boston Terriers and have had a blossoming romance over two years.
Nurse Jessica said of Joe: "We developed a relationship initially long distance and then I moved from southern California to be closer to him and it has been great ever since.
"He is a pretty quiet guy so at first when you're just getting to know him he keeps to himself and just observes his surroundings.
"He is very knowledgeable and anyone he talks to he can carry a conversation with.
"I really like that about him because I think that someone who is educated and speaks well is very attractive. I love that he is gentle, kind and he is so courageous.
"For everything he has gone through, he remains so positive and such a light.
"I love Joe inside and out because he is a funny guy, he knew what he wanted in life and was very mature for his age."
Of his new relationship, Joe said: "When I was burnt I was not looking for love but I was always confident it would happen eventually because I am the same on the inside.
"Nothing has changed besides my skin. Now it's really just amazing getting independence again.
"After surgery I was like at 0% - I couldn't really do anything. Now I feel like I'm at 50%. I can cook, clean, do laundry and I can move my phone better."
"I have had a couple of burnt people hit me up about how to cope. I just tell them to just keep acting how you've always acted.
"You'll find out who your real friends are doing that. It's way easier said than done, and I always say that too.'In 2018, Joe fell asleep at the wheel of his car after working a night shift.
Joe crashed his car into a curb after falling asleep at the wheel after a night shift - leading the vehicle to explode.
He only survived due to the heroic actions of passersby who pulled him from the flames.
The car crashed after he hit a curb, then exploded and he only survived because people pulled him from the flames.