Since being injured in a horrific gun accident in 1997, 37 year old Richard Lee Norris has undergone extensive plastic surgery to remake his face after it was shattered in the incident. At the time of the accident Mr Norris was left with just his skull, his eyes and parts of his jaw.
That said 15 years later, countless operations, including the one he had earlier this year at the University of Maryland Medical Center Mr Norris reckons these days the following: “I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look.’
The above pictures demonstrate the remarkable changes that Mr Norris has undergone, 7 months after a 36 hour operation at the University of Maryland Medical Center that saw him being given a new face, teeth, tongue and jaw.
Offered Dr Eduardo D Rodriguez, the leading surgeon who led a large team operating on Mr Norris earlier this year:
“Our goal for Richard from the beginning was to restore facial harmony and functional balance in the most aesthetic manner possible through the complex transplantation of the facial bones, nerves, muscles, tongue, teeth and the associated soft tissues.”
During the 15 years he has had to endure deprived motor functions in his face (these days motor function is now 80 per cent on the right side of the face and 40 per cent on the left, as well as now regaining his sense of smell) as well as the horror of his injuries Mr Norris has lived in seclusion, rarely going out in public, constantly having to wear a mask to hide his deformity but that now since the last operation has all changed.
Reports the dailymail.co.uk: He received the new face from an anonymous donor in March whose organs saved five other patients’ lives on the same day.
The transplant was led by Dr Eduardo D. Rodriguez, professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of plastic, reconstructive and maxillofacial surgery at Shock Trauma.
A virtual army of 100 doctors, scientists and other university medical staff ranging from plastic surgeons to craniofacial specialists teamed up for the operation.
The surgery involved ten years of research funded by the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research, and will serve as a model for helping war veterans injured by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, the university said.
In order to ensure Mr Norris would retain maximum function of his facial expressions and movements, doctors gave him a new tongue for proper speech, eating, and chewing, normally aligned teeth, and connected his nerves to allow for smiling. Something of course that he has been doing a lot of these days.
These days Mr Norris according to the medicaldailyspends his time fishing and golfing. While he still attends physical and speech therapy sessions, he has made great improvements and has now regained his speech and can smile and show expression.
And what does Dr Rodgriguez think about Mr Norris’ development?
“Richard is exceeding my expectations this soon after his surgery, and he deserves great deal of credit for the countless hours spent practicing his speech and strengthening his new facial muscles. He’s one of the most courageous and committed individuals I know.”
Expect the university to continue reaching out and expanding on this remarkable facial transplant program going forward.