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Va. man receives 'most extensive' face transplant

Baltimore — In what is being hailed as the most extensive face transplant to date, surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center have replaced a Virginia man’s tongue, teeth, and upper and lower jaws with those of an anonymous donor and reconstructed his nose.

The Washington Post reports that Richard Norris, 37, lost his lips, nose and the front portion of his tongue in a gun accident when he was 22. Damage to his jaw left him with limited mouth mobility and a face that looked like it had sunken into itself. For 15 years, Mr. Norris, of Hillsville, Va., had hidden behind a surgical mask, avoided eating in public and shopped for groceries only at night. His doctors said he lived as a recluse, “not a functioning member of society.”

Three days after the 36-hour operation, performed March 19-20, Mr. Norris — one of few victims of ballistic facial injury to retain vision — asked for a mirror so that he could see himself. Doctors told The Post he couldn’t stop repeating, “This is so cool.”

A week after the surgery, Mr. Norris was brushing his teeth and shaving, according to The Post.

Officials said the operation, which involved more than 150 doctors, nurses and UMMC staffers, was the culmination of a decade of research funded by the Office of Naval Research as part of an effort to expand facial reconstruction possibilities for wounded soldiers.

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