Five years after receiving a full face transplant, this hero breaks his silence

In the accident, he was a passenger in a car that hit an electrical pole. Although he managed to push a woman to safety, a high-voltage wire shocked Mitchell with 10,000 volts — for five minutes.

He survived but lost a leg, and burns from the electrical shock left him disfigured.

Needless to say, he went through some dark times after the accident, even though he couldn't remember it. "People tell me I'm fortunate that I don't remember [the accident] because it would probably be a lot of pain," he told WISH-TV.

Even numerous skin grafts couldn't help the Army vet.

"Imagine walking into a room and, like, falling and everybody noticing," he said. "That's how it was every time I walked in a room because of the way my face looked."

He needed more drastic help.

In 2011, Mitchell received just the third-ever full face transplant in the U.S.

Doctors operated for 14 hours, an incredible procedure giving him a nose, eyelids, muscles to help his face move, and nerves, all made possible by an anonymous donor. At the time, it made headlines.

His transformation since then has been nothing short of remarkable...

Five years later, Mitchell has a new lease on life.

Rather than worrying about stares, he worries about when to trim his beard. "Hot, cold, pain, tickle, rubbing my beard, someone kissing my face, I can feel everything," Mitchell says.

The physical transformation has come with a social transformation, too.

"It's a lot easier to go out in public now, I will tell you that," he says.

Through the process, he has gained some insight and perspective.

"I look back on it as something that made me stronger,” he said. “I mean, yeah, I’d like to have my leg and my face back, but without that happening I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

The transplant happened in 2011, and Mitchell Hunter said in an exclusive interview Sunday that he feels fantastic. “I feel just as healthy just as I did when I was 21, and I feel great,” Hunter said.