A gun accident fifteen years ago left Richard Lee Norris without his lips, nose, and with limited movement of his mouth. Now after a marathon 36-hour surgical procedure described as "the most extensive full face transplant completed to date," a team led by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez at the University of Maryland has restored Mr. Norris' quality of life.

The procedure, which goes by the technical name of "vascularized composite allograft" (VCA), took place at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center on March 19-20 and involved over 150 nurses and professional staff.

CT scan before and after surgery (Image: University of Maryland Medical Center)

"We utilized innovative surgical practices and computerized techniques to precisely transplant the mid-face, maxilla and mandible including teeth, and a portion of the tongue," said Dr. Rodriquez. "In addition, the transplant included all facial soft tissue from the scalp to the neck, including the underlying muscles to enable facial expression, and sensory and motor nerves to restore feeling and function. Our goal is to restore function as well as have aesthetically pleasing results."

The achievement is the result of 10 years of research and the generosity of a anonymous donor who also saved five other lives through organ transplants - four of which also took place at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Source: University of Maryland Medical Center