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Amazing new face of gun victim

After 15 years of wearing a mask and living as a recluse, a 37-year-old US man who was disfigured in a gun accident has a new face, nose, teeth and jaw.

University of Maryland physicians say it is the most extensive face transplant ever performed.

Richard Lee Norris, of Hillsville, Virginia, is recovering well after last week's surgery, beginning to feel his face and already brushing his teeth and shaving. He's also regained his sense of smell, which he had lost after the accident.

Mr Norris, who was selected from among five possible candidates for the surgery, has been living as a recluse, doing his shopping at night. It's hoped the transplant will give him his life back, said Dr Eduardo Rodriguez, the lead surgeon.


"It's a surreal experience to look at him. It's hard not to stare. Before, people used to stare at Richard because he wore a mask and they wanted to see the deformity," Dr Rodriguez said. "Now, they have another reason to stare at him, and it's really amazing."

Dr Rodriguez showed a 1993 photo of Mr Norris, "as we all want to be remembered," beside a pre-transplant photo of Mr Norris' shortened face with a sunken mouth and flattened nose. He then revealed a photo of Mr Norris taken on Monday, where his face appears ordinary, other than stitches along his hairline and neck and scarring around his eyelids.

Although he now has the donor's face, he doesn't resemble the donor, he said.

"It's a combination of two individuals, a true blend," he added.