Man Gets World’s Fullest Face Transplant (PHOTO)
Richard Lee Norris is recovering amazingly after receiving the world’s fullest face transplant. The 37-year-old Virginia man was disfigured after a gun accident took his lips, nose, and part of his jaw. He underwent facial transplant surgery seven months ago, and his difficulties with eating and breathing have diminished. He had been a recluse after the accident, but expressed his new-found freedom.
“People used to stare at me because of my disfigurement. Now they can stare at me in amazement and in the transformation I have taken,” said Norris. “I can now start working on the new life given back to me.”
The 36-hour long operation included the expertise of around 100 doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although, Norris’ surgery is the fullest face transplant surgery of its kind, there have been 22 similar surgeries performed worldwide since 2005. This is one of six facial transplantations done in the U.S.
The goal was to “restore facial harmony and functional balance in the most aesthetic manner possible,” said Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, Norris’ main surgeon.
Research for face transplant surgeries began 10 years ago when doctors witnessed the horrific effects of war related injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Stephen Bartlett, surgeon-in-chief at the Maryland Medical Center says they’re applying what they’ve learned to accident victims: “Now having seen how this surgery has changed Richard’s life, we are even more dedicated to researching ways to improve facial transplantation and helping more patients, including military veterans, return to normal lives after undergoing this same surgery.”
Norris continues to have check-ups and undergoes regular physical therapy and speech therapy sessions. He says his ability to talk has improved and he’s enjoying spending time with his friends and family who saw him through the surgery.