He’s finally found someone to hold his hand.
The first person to ever undergo a successful face and double hand transplant surgery has found love three years after his miracle operation.
Joe DiMeo, now 24, suffered third-degree burns to 80% of his body and had his fingertips amputated after his Dodge Challenger crashed and exploded into flames in New Jersey in July 2018.
DiMeo underwent 20 reconstructive plastic surgeries and skin grafts before medics at New York University’s Langone medical center performed the 23-hour simultaneous face and bilateral hand transplant in August 2020.
The youngster’s incredible story captured the attention of Californian Jessica Koby, 32, who contacted DiMeo on Instagram after hearing about the surgery.
The pair quickly struck up conversation, initially bonding over a shared love for Boston Terrier dogs. After falling into a long-distance relationship, Koby decided to relocate to New Jersey to be closer to DiMeo.
Koby, who works as a nurse, said she has been blown away by her boyfriend’s strength and optimism in the face of his unprecedented challenges.
“I love that he is gentle, kind and he is so courageous.” she swooned in an interview with Southwest News Service. “For everything he has gone through, he remains so positive and such a light.”
“He is very knowledgeable and anyone he talks to he can carry a conversation with,” she continued. “I really like that about him because I think that someone who is educated and speaks well is very attractive.”
Koby — who is eight years older than DiMeo — further claimed that her beau is both “funny” and “very mature for his age.”
Meanwhile, a confident DiMeo says he never doubted he would find love despite the drastic change in his appearance.
“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,” he declared. “Nothing has changed besides my skin.”
The couple have already moved together with their two Boston Terriers and DiMeo has revealed that he is even driving again after his hand transplant — something he previously told The Post that he was dreaming of doing.
“I can drive again,” DiMeo enthused. “I just drive my girlfriend’s Subaru Crosstrek.”
DiMeo has also revealed new details about the donor of his new face.
“My donor was a 48-year-old stroke victim from Delaware who died two days before my surgery,” the 24-year-old stated.
DiMeo humorously told Southwest News Service that he would have preferred to receive a female’s face “just so I wouldn’t have to shave all the time” — but says he is incredibly grateful to his donor and the 140 medical professionals who helped pull off the staggering surgery.
“It didn’t feel weird being given the face of someone nearly twice my age because I was just completely ready to start my life again,” he declared. “This is who I am now and I came to terms with that quite quickly really.”
Despite his endless optimism, DiMeo admits he lost “fake friends” following his car crash, and is still subject to stares when he’s out in public.
“It was sad to see my fake friends all go but then you realize who your real friends are and you appreciate them more,” he told Southwest News Service, displaying his indomitable spirit.
“People [also] look at me, which doesn’t bother me,” DiMeo continued. “I’m 6”1’ and wide and then on top of that I wear short sleeves a lot of the time so you can see my burnt arms. So I don’t mind people staring because I would stare too.”
As for the future, DiMeo is now writing a book and is house-hunting with Koby, as they want more space for their two Boston Terrier dogs, Buster and Kirkland.
“I could do a pity party but that’s just not me,” he declared, saying he feels buoyed by having his girlfriend at his side.
DiMeo’s accident occurred after fell asleep at the wheel on his way home from a night shift working in a food testing laboratory in July 2018 in Hillside, New Jersey.
Two years later, DiMeo learned he would be undergoing a face and double transplant.
“I was ready for the transplant when it was offered to me,” he stated. “I didn’t want to live how I was living.”
It took a team of 140 surgeons, nurses and support staff to pull off the pioneering surgery in August 2020 – which had only been attempted twice before.
Joe’s long road to recovery was led by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, one of NYU’s preeminent plastic surgeons, who spoke to The Post following the surgery.
“His spirit is so strong,” Rodriguez remarked at the time.
“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” DiMeo also told The Post. “Never give up and never let your appearance slow you down. Always look at the good things.”