People call me a gold digger for dating a man who had a face transplant – but we don’t care

A nurse who fell in love with her boyfriend after undergoing a face transplant is dubbed a gold digger by trolls.

Jessica Perez, 32, met 24-year-old Joe DiMeo through social media after reading his tragic story online – and the pair have been inseparable ever since.

Jessica met Joe eight months after his face transplant


Jessica met Joe eight months after his face transplantCredit: Jam Press/Jessica Perez
According to Jessica, Joe


According to Jessica, Joe “fits all the criteria”Credit: Jam Press/Jessica Perez
Joe before and after his transplant (left to right)


Joe before and after his transplant (left to right)Credit: Jam Press/Jessica Perez

“From our first call, Joe was special to me,” said Jessica from Ohio, USA.

Joe, who lived in New Jersey, suffered third-degree burns on 80 percent of his body in a 2018 car accident.

Since then he has undergone 20 reconstructive plastic surgeries and skin grafts on his face and hands.

For Jessica, Joe ticks “all the boxes” for the perfect boyfriend.

“He’s a sweet, kind and caring person who knows what he wants and what we want,” she said.

Though the new relationship got off to a great start, Jessica said she feels “like a punching bag” because of the online hate she’s receiving.

“People say I’m a gold digger looking for attention and call me a fake,” the nurse said.

The couple is also personally bullied.

“Young people can be rude and say, ‘What’s wrong with his face?'” she said.

“Joe doesn’t care, but I wonder how people are brought up so badly.”

The loving couple met eight months after Joe’s transplant.

Their relationship quickly blossomed as they bonded over their shared love of Boston Terrier dogs — and they now share Buster, six, and Kirkland, seven.

Although Joe has recovered from his surgeries, he still gets hospitalized from time to time.

“We’ve had to cancel trips and plans and can’t even go for a walk in the summer heat because otherwise Joe can be repelled by the sun,” his girlfriend said.

“It was never a problem for me and being a nurse I understand a lot about his care.”

Jessica said both she and Joe have never let the negativity get the better of them and both remain positive and hopeful about their future.

She added, “I talk to Joe about the hate, he helps me manage my feelings.”

“Sometimes I react when someone speaks publicly about their life.”

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The couple is now looking forward to starting a family.

“We’re looking to get a puppy together in the near future,” Jessica said.

The loving couple met eight months after Joe's transplant.


The loving couple met eight months after Joe’s transplant.Credit: Jam Press/Jessica Perez
Joe needs to stay protected from the sun


Joe needs to stay protected from the sunCredit: Jam Press/Jessica Perez
The couple's Boston Terriers: Kirkland and Buster


The couple’s Boston Terriers: Kirkland and BusterCredit: Jam Press/Jessica Perez

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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