Robert Chelsea’s Journey

Robert’s Story: How a horrific accident tested his resilience and strengthened his faith  

It started as a night like any other. Five years ago, Robert was driving home from his weekly church fellowship in Los Angeles. His car overheated, and he pulled to the side of the freeway awaiting roadside assistance.

While waiting in his car for help, a drunk driver smashed into Robert’s disabled car. The drunk driver had three previous drunk driving convictions and never should have been allowed on the road that fateful night.

Robert’s car exploded on impact. He suffered third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body—mostly to his upper body and face—making him nearly unrecognizable to his friends, his family and himself. It was only by the grace of God and the quick thinking and heroism of standers by that he survived the accident.

After enduring more than 30 surgeries to repair his body and many years of prayer, Robert has the opportunity to receive cutting-edge surgery that will help him rebuild his life. With your help, he will become the first African American to receive a facial transplant.

Please read Robert’s heart-wrenching account of his experience below. If you are inspired by his story, please make a donation to his gofundme campaign. No donation is too small. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

In His Own Words…

There is a relatively new medical procedure called “Facial Transplantation” that can make my face whole again. Since 2005, only 41 people in the world have undergone this procedure. And with your help, I will become first African American in the country to receive this breakthrough surgery.

“Following my accident, I was in a coma for the first six months and remember nothing. That’s probably for the best. In total, I spent a year and a half in the hospital. While the burns covered much of my body, it was my face that suffered the worst visible damage. Nevertheless, I am grateful to God for the opportunity to continue to serve HIM! My challenges are great but not impossible! You have no idea what it’s like to speak to a customer, friend or a loved one when your lips and tongue have been burned. Despite their best efforts to hide their instinctive reactions, I could feel their disgust and discomfort, and there is nothing I could do. My business fell apart because of it, and many of my friends drifted away. However, my faith remains strong, and God has answered my prayers.

After three years of tests and physical and psychological evaluations, I have now been qualified as a candidate for the facial reconstruction/transplantation and I look forward to when I can kiss my daughter's cheek with my own lips again. 


As you can imagine, the costs for such a procedure are very high, even with my medical insurance. With that said, the goal of my Gofundme campaign is to raise funds to cover the large co-pays that can be associated with the extensive follow up required after the procedure, as well as assisting with the costs for the required travel to Boston Massachusetts and local lodging expenses for my caregivers.

Specifically, the surgery requires that I travel from the Los Angeles area to Boston, and live there for approximately six months while I receive the extensive treatment and patient follow-up. It will also require constant out-patient care from my daughter, sister, and godson who will have to live with me off and on during that time.

I have waited patiently for this chance at normalcy for years; to eat, drink and sleep without my mouth open!  

As of May 2018, I am #1 on the Donor list to receive this procedure. But without the necessary funds, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would be very financially difficult for me.

Please help me meet my goal. Any help from you is sincerely appreciated.     


After years of tests and physical and psychological evaluations, and a longer than usual wait for a donor, Chelsea underwent a 16 hour full face transplant at Brigham and women's Hospital, July 2019. The surgery itself was deemed a success and Robert is progressing and recovering remarkably fast. Although his new face suits him quite well, there is the constant danger of transplant rejection, and he must take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life. As a result, Chelsea will need ongoing physical and psychological care, and financial support. Please join us in raising money to help Robert, as he is unable to work. He needs financial support for expensive medical co-pays, caregivers, travel to and from Boston and day to day living expenses.

If you would like to learn more about my facial transplant procedure, please click here:

Cards and letters can be sent to: 

8001 Somerset Blvd. Unit 77
Paramount, CA 90723

  • Jackie Jones 
    • $50 
    • 3 d
  • Jessica De La Cruz 
    • $50 
    • 23 d
    • $20 
    • 23 d
  • Daniel M Limerick 
    • $2,000 
    • 25 d
  • Ted Davis 
    • $150 
    • 25 d
See all


Robert Chelsea 
Los Angeles, CA
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more