I have been on a medical science kick lately. Especially tremendous, feel-good stories about people who have been given “new life” from procedures that saved a life, or allowed someone to get on with life. I thought putting part of a beauty queen’s skull in her abdomen was an impressive task, but this one may take the cake.
Richard Lee Norris, of Hillsville, Virginia, was saved by a team of medical professionals in 1997, after a gun accident ravaged the majority of his face and destroyed many working elements of his skull. Unfortunately, doctors could do very little in the realm of facial reconstruction those 15 years ago. Since then, Norris has chosen to live a reclusive lifestyle, only going out at night and choosing to wear a mask when doing so.
Now, Norris has become the first face transplant patient in the United States to retain his eyesight. The surgery also allowed Norris to regain his sense of smell, which he had all but lost following his accident. Doctors gave him a new tongue, and they replaced various aspects of the skull, offering Norris new teeth capable of proper function. They even did extensive work on the nervous system that would allow him to smile and enjoy more sense of touch on his face.
All in all, a team of 100 physicians and surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center, led by Dr. Richard Rodriguez, took part in this groundbreaking, medical procedure.