Man has new face after 36-hour surgery

March 27, 2012 at 9:54 PM

BALTIMORE, March 27 (UPI) -- A Virginia man who underwent a 36-hour face transplant last week said he was pleased with his new face, which he saw Tuesday for the first time.

The University of Maryland released details of the most extensive full face transplant completed to date -- including both jaws, teeth, and tongue -- last week at the University of Maryland Medical Center, which involved a team of physicians and more 150 nurses and staff.

Richard Lee Norris, 37, of Hillsville, Va., was injured in 1997 in a gun accident in which he lost his lips and nose and had limited movement of his mouth. He has had multiple life-saving and reconstructive surgeries.

Since 2005, he has been treated with Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Rodriguez is also a dentist and chief of plastic, reconstructive and maxillofacial surgery at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

He and the scientific teams focused on the anatomic and immunologic challenges to face transplantation.

"This accomplishment is the culmination of more than 10 years researching the immune system's response to vascular composite allograft transplants," said Dr. Stephen T. Bartlett, chairman of the department of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and surgeon-in-chief at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "Our solid organ transplant immunosuppressive protocol has led to excellent outcomes for our patients and will be part of the long-term care plan for the face transplant patient."

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