Three years ago, Joshua Aversano, who was just 21 years old then, died in a car accident. That might have been the end of that young man’s life, but it wasn’t the end of his contribution to the world. Thanks to transplant surgery, Joshua’s face was grafted onto another body.
In 1997, 22-year-old Richard Norris accidentally shot himself in the face and was left badly disfigured.
Now 39, Richard had a number of operations – reportedly over 30 – but saw only little improvement. Joshua Aversano’s mother said that donating Joshua’s face to Richard felt “like the right thing to do”. After the operation, she said, “We can definitely see our son in him.”
In a touching moment, when Rebekah saw Richard for the first time after the operation, she asked to touch his face.
It took 36 hours of surgery to transplant the face. The operation itself was quite controversial because Richard only had 50% chance of survival. Despite the operation’s success, Norris will have to take antibiotics for the rest of his life to suppress his immune system’s rejection of the foreign face.
Norris can now have some sort of a normal life and feels indebted to the Aversano family, with whom he keeps in touch.