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After dozens of surgeries and endless rehabilitation, a Harbor Beach man is hoping his story will help others who may be at the most vulnerable points in their lives.

Derek Pfaff attempted suicide while he was a student at Saginaw Valley State University. The young man lived but the gunshot wound tore off most of his face leaving him severely disfigured.

Derek's story

Derek Pfaff was a typical kid whose career as a high school football star was celebrated. He left his home in Huron County to go to SVSU and got good grades his first semester but struggled after that.

During spring break in 2014, his father found him lying on the ground in a pool of blood with a shotgun by his side. His mother, Lisa Pfaff, says they thought they were going to lose him that night. She tells WNEM-TV 5 that her world changed that day, along with Derek's.

"I'm a mom, your world just crumbles. You don't know how to feel, to think, you don't know what to do," Lisa said.

But Derek pulled through and Lisa had to as well. She says she's had to be strong in order to help her son fight for his life.

What's next for Derek

In the last seven years, Derek has undergone 58 surgeries. But an experimental face-transplant surgery costs roughly one million dollars and is not covered by insurance. His mother has initiated several fundraising attempts, many of which can be found here on her Facebook page.

Derek hopes to inspire others

In the video below, Pfaff tells WNEM that he is now holding himself accountable. He doesn't remember shooting himself in the face but he now wishes he would have done something different that night.

"Should have talked to somebody, get it off my chest to feel better," he said.

He now looks at life differently and urges anyone who is struggling with life or having suicidal thoughts to seek help immediately.

If you're in crisis or know someone who is having thoughts of suicide, please call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


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