Richard Norris, aged 39, had his face disfigured during a fatal shooting when he was 22 years old, in 1977. Norris, from Virginia, underwent roughly around a dozen surgeries but they all left him depressed and suicidal.
On the flip side of the story – the Aversano family lost their 21-year-old son in a tragic road side accident, after being ran over by a minivan.
In 2012, following the accident, the Aversano family donated their son’s face to Richard Norris, giving him another chance. The surgery began in March 2012 to mark one of the most extensive surgical operations of all times taking 36 hours to complete the transplantation of the teeth, tongue, the jaw and the nerves.
Rebekah Aversano, sister to the deceased brother, Joshua, met Norris at his home in Virginia. The moment? Well, it was simply a moment of intense emotions.
These photographs, released on 27 March 2012 by the University of Maryland medical centre, show before-and-after images of Richard Norris. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Joshua’s mother, speaking to Canada’s CTV Network said, “We can definitely see our son in him,” she said. “Some of the facial features would definitely be our son, so we could see similarities, very much so. We are just so pleased we have been able to help him. Even though we had such a tragic loss, we were able to give someone else the benefit of our son.”
Norris, since his accident has lived a very traumatic life, hearing remarks and comments that are simply too horrible.
At the time of the surgery, the doctors told Norris that he only had a 50% chance to survive the surgery, however, he still went ahead with it.