A man in the USA has been given a full face transplant after suffering a gun accident 15 years ago.
The US military paid for his treatment in the hope that techniques learned will assist soldiers who are injured and disfigured in combat.
Now aged 37, Richard Lee Norris suffered massive disfiguration and lived a solitary life after accidentally shooting himself in the face. The injuries he sustained included complete loss of his jaw and lips.
The transplant involved him receiving an entire face from the base of the neck to the crown of his head. He also received a new nose, new teeth and a new jaw. Surgeons also used computer models to assess the damage in his face so that they could transplant tongue, nerves and muscle, removing all scar tissue from previous surgeries in the process.
The transplant took 36 hours to complete and is said to have been so successful that Mr Norris was able to brush his new teeth and shave within a week of its completion. He also regained his sense of smell and could feel his own face.
Although he does not look like the donor, his new face is said to be a combination of his previous facial structure and the donor’s. The lead surgeon, Eduardo Rodriguez, said: “Our goal is to restore function as well as have aesthetically pleasing results.”
Five other patients received organs from the same donor when the operations were performed early in March.