26-year-old face transplant recipient: 'I see me': Part 1

When he was 24, Cameron Underwood says he was looking for a way out when he decided to try to take his own life.
7:21 | 11/17/18

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Transcript for 26-year-old face transplant recipient: 'I see me': Part 1
It's remarkable seeing and knowing what you've been through. Can you walk us through what you got from will and what you were able to keep? I'm on the top part. So it starts right here and it goes down and then everything under is will's. Reporter: It's one of the most unusual questions I've ever posed to anyone. Asking a young man for a guided tour of the features of his face. So when you look in the mirror, what do you see? Me? I see me. Reporter: But before 26-year-old Cameron Underwood wants the world to see the me he sees, he first wants you to understand how his former face and the face of another young man he never knew became one. How together, cam was given a second chance at life. So much of this story is not anything that anyone would ever prepare for in their life. It's unimaginable, like you said, how did this happen? Reporter: Cam's mom, Bev Bailey potter, believes god put her on Earth to be a wife and mother -- her greatest joy. Her four children, the oldest, Julie and then the three boys, Aaron, Brad and her youngest, cam. They were just so close and I always took pride in that. I think there's a bond between the three of us that's different than any other brother bond I've ever seen. Reporter: A close knit family grounded in their faith. Cam's grandfather founded the united pentacostal church in the northern California agricultural community of yuba city. Faith is the essence of everything in our family. Without that foundation, I think this journey would've been a lot more difficult. Reporter: Hunting is religion for cam and the Underwoods as well. We're really an outdoors family. We all like the outdoors. Hey, cam! He grew up on the lake. He was natural athlete. He was good. Show me the game ball. He is gifted in so many areas, so many ways. Con, son. He was easy. A little more on the shy side but just a wonderful spirit about him, easy going. But by the first time he gets to high school, his spirit isn't what people notice about him. It's his face. Cam was a hand some boy. His smile would light up his face and it was so evident in his eyes. He was just a handsome boy! Women started noticing him more and more and more. We would walk into places and you know, ladies heads would turn. Reporter: But for cam, there's only one girlfriend. I would say he was in love with her for sure. Reporter: The couple date for years after high school. Planning a future, cam starts working in his step father's business. Heavy equipment repair. He made so much money, he bought his own house at the age of 19. But the family says cam becomes a workaholic, pushing himself. Working too hard and playing hard too. You know we'd call each other, we'd meet up usually at cam's house and go and drink some beers. It started out it was fun. You're 21 everyone drinks and goes and has a good time. Reporter: But cam isn't everyone. His mom Bev says even with everything going for him, that bright light that had always shone in cam's eyes begins to fade. Good looking, driven, self-sufficient and yet at some point you noticed something dark. You know, I have a clear memory in my mind. I saw him walk across the parking lot and he just looked so sad and so empty. I just thought, what's he going through? Is he unhappy? Reporter: Turns out, he is. The family says cam kept his loved ones completely in the dark, rarely showing his emotions, even as the life he counted on was falling apart. Like when he and his girlfriend broke up. I think being with somebody for that long, obviously there's a huge gap left in your life now. I know he started going out more and, you know, partying a little more at that time. Reporter: And over the next few years, cam and his closest old cohorts had drifted apart. Drinking buddy Kevin started a family of his own and both his older brothers now had new jobs and moved out of state. What impact did their absence have on cam, his best friends? Huge. He was alone? He was alone. Reporter: Well, not completely alone. I spent more time with cam than anybody, yeah. We were together nearly seven days a week. This is cam's uncle Lonnie who admits a big part of their togetherness involved drinking, a lot of drinking. Bev was concerned about cam and I, our relationship, as far as the alcohol and everything else. Did you know that cam was drinking too much? Yes. Yes, I did. And I was worried. Reporter: But less obvious is the underlying depression. Still it's a shock when cam not so subtly hints he's thinking of taking his own life. He didn't like spell it out, but I mean I knew it was with a gun and I knew that was what he was planning, but I mean it was very alarming. I understand his father at one point removed the guns from cam's home. Because I asked him to. When I went over and got his guns, because his mom said he was talking about killing himself, I never thought he would go that far. Turns out cam's father Randy removed all the guns. All, but one. A shotgun cam kept in his safe. Which brings us to a Sunday night that June. I get a text from cam. It's like hey why don't you just come down and stay the night? I'm like okay. I got to his house and all the lights were on, which I expected, door was unlocked. I walked in, nobody in the living room and I figured he was probably in the bedroom. Reporter: Lonnie walks into that bedroom and into a nightmare. Blood everywhere. And cam staggering against the wall. I think that is probably the point I went into shock. Reporter: Cam had put a shotgun under his chin and pulled the trigger. He is rushed to the hospital. Do you remember what you were thinking? I was praying is what I was doing. That's what I was doing.

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