For 15 years, Richard Norris lived like a hermit, hiding his face behind surgical masks or baseball caps and venturing out only a night. Since he lost the bottom half of his face in a gun accident, Richard admits every day was a nightmare as he dealt with depression and cruel taunts from strangers. He even considered suicide.
But today things are different for the 37-year-old after he had one of medical history’s most complex face transplants. Gone is his horribly disfigured face and in its place are new features including teeth, a tongue and a jaw. But remarkably, Richard says he is not sure if he would have changed a thing.
In his first interview since the life-changing operation, he says: “Those years of hell I lived through, it has given me such a wealth of knowledge. It’s put some of the best people in my life. I’ve heard all kinds of remarks, a lot were really horrible. When I was disfigured, just walking I was surprised more people didn’t walk into telephone poles or break their necks to stare at me. I’m now able to walk past people and no one gives me a second look...”
Richard, of Hillsville, Virginia, was chosen for a face transplant eight years ago after more than a dozen operations which attempted to give him functional use of his mouth. He was horribly disfigured when he tried to move a gun leaning against a cabinet and it accidentally went off...
Richard’s transplant was possible thanks to 10 years of research and 22 face transplants to date. The first was performed in 2005 on a French woman mauled by her dog.
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