‘Trolls call me Chucky and brand my girlfriend gold digger – but we’re in love’

The man who successfully received the world's first face and double hand transplant shared how trolls cruelly attack his relationship.

Joseph DiMeo, from the US, cheated death when he survived a horrific car crash that left him with third-degree burns over 80% of his body. After the accident in 2018, Joe had to adapt to the disfigurements he endured – including losing his eyelids and finger tips.

For the first year or so, the 24-year-old became a recluse and would spend most of his time hiding away at his parents. But, in 2020, Joe was given the opportunity to undergo a gruelling 23 hour operation that had never successfully been done before.

READ MORE: 'I got world's first face and double hand transplant – but trolls call me Chucky'

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Despite knowing the surgery proved unsuccessful for two patients before him – one died on the table and another's body rejected the treatment – Joe went ahead with the face and double hand transplant.

Remarkably, Joe's nearly day long operation was a huge success which has now given him the face and hands of his 47-year-old donor – and has given him a chance at being able to live his life.

As Joe continued to receive treatment, he worked on getting his confidence back. And after Jessica Koby, 32, learnt about his historic medical case on her university nursing course, she messaged him on Instagram to share how inspired she was by Joe.

Romance began to blossom when the pair got chatting – and they have now been together for two years. But, not everyone is so supportive about their relationship as cruel trolls have labelled Jessica a 'gold digger'.

"I think it’s funny, she doesn’t," Joe exclusively told us when asked about the trolling he and Jessica receive. "She takes it to heart as she works hard for what she has.

"She’s an OR [operating room] nurse so it’s pretty high up there so she doesn’t like that people call her 'gold digger' and stuff like that But at the end of the day, they don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.

"They don’t know the true story, it’s only the little people that bug her and they don’t have real profiles, without their faces on it. So why let that bother you?

"They’re just going to say something to you and go on to the next person and say something. So it’s not really worth your time to get bothered by it.

"Jessica replies back to dumb ones talking bad about me but I just tell her to delete it. If she gets called a 'gold digger', she’ll reply back to that and I’m like 'ok you can do that because you’ve got proof to back it up', she has a degree.

"But I told her to not acknowledge them, if you do acknowledge them it just gives them validation and they just get happy from it."

Joe has racked up over 127,000 TikTok followers by documenting his transplant journey. While many people are inspired and intrigued by his story, some users take the opportunity to hurl abuse about his appearance.

Some even go as far as comparing his looks to serial killing doll Chucky, knife-wielding slasher Michael Myers or even the crazed chainsaw wielding Leather Face. But, Joe has a different technique to cope with the haters than his girlfriend does.

Joe chuckled: "People make fun of me and call me like ‘Michael Myers’ or 'Leather Face' from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s one of my favourite movies so I don’t mind it – so that one doesn’t bother me. I encourage them.

"Everyone thinks I have money because I guess the surgery is expensive but it was a research project so I didn’t pay anything for it, and Wounded Warriors paid a lot of it and a whole bunch of investors paid for it.

"People just assume that I have a lot of money when in reality Jessica was a child nurse [paediatric] at first so she had a lot more money to spend because that’s why we went to Hawaii and stuff like that because of her, and people think it’s me.

"She still makes a lot of money as an OR nurse and I’m disabled so I can’t get a job at the moment. I say that on Live and I say that on TikTok it doesn’t bother me, but they still go after her.

"So I just say leave them alone, they’re probably hurt more than you are because they have to lash out at you."

The pair are now renovating their very first home together. Joe and Jessica got the keys less than a month ago, and are busy painting their new pad.

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Even though Joe never thought he'd have a girlfriend, the couple are proving that everyone deserves to be happy.

"I think everyone is for someone," he said. "I would say the only thing that the accident changed about me was patience, just to chill out more and things take time to happen.

"Even before my accident I wasn’t planning on having a girlfriend, I just thought I’d be single my whole life. I thought I’d live in a condo because I hate raking leaves, as I grew up doing that. My whole life has basically switched.

"She’s the one, she changed my whole mindset and I wasn’t really looking for love – it just happened."

You can find Joe on TikTok here and Instagram here

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