A victim of a 1997 gun accident has been given a new (exterior) outlook on life. Richard Lee Norris, a 37-year-old Virginia Man has been given a new face, teeth, tongue and jaw in a full face transplant.
University of Maryland physicians are calling Norris' procedure the most extensive face transplant ever performed. The surgery was performed last week, and officials announced to ABC News that Norris is recovering well, already engaging in daily routines like brushing his teeth and shaving.
The operation took 36-hours during March 19 - 20 at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center, utilizing over 150 nurses and professional staff, said a press release from the Medical Center.
Our goal is to restore function as well as have aesthetically pleasing results, said Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, who led the face transplant team. We utilized innovative surgical practices and computerized techniques to precisely transplant the mid-face, maxilla and mandible including teeth, and a portion of the tongue, continued Rodriguez. In addition, the transplant included all facial soft tissue from the scalp of the neck, including the underlying muscles to enable facial expression, and sensory and motor nerves to restore feeling and function.
Norris received the face from the family of an anonymous donor, who also helped save five other lives through the organ donation. The donation and transplant procedures took a total of 72 straight hours.
Richard Lee Norris had been injured in a 1997 gun accident, and had gone through multiple surgeries since the incident - life-saving and reconstructive. The press release from the Medical Center revealed that due to the accident and extent of damage done to his face, he had lost his lips, nose and had limited movement of his mouth.
This accidental injury just destroyed everything. The rest of his friends and colleagues went on to start getting married, having children, owning homes, Dr. Rodriguez told the Associated Press. He wants to make up for all of that.
This most recent face transplant is the 23rd to take place since doctors began doing face transplants seven years ago. The first full face transplant occurred in 2005 in France for a woman who had been mauled by her dog. The first face transplant in the U.S. wouldn't occur until 2008.