Entries in University of Maryland Medical Center (2)


Face Transplant Patient Delights in Transformation

University of Maryland Medical Center(BALTIMORE) -- A 37-year-old Virginia man who received the world’s fullest face transplant in March said he no longer lives as a recluse.

Richard Lee Norris was disfigured in a 1997 gun accident that claimed his nose, lips and part of his jaw. But during a 36-hour operation, doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center gave Norris a new face from his scalp to his neck, complete with bones, muscles, nerves and skin.

“People used to stare at me because of my disfigurement. Now they can stare at me in amazement and in the transformation I have taken,” Norris said in a prepared statement. “I can now start working on the new life given back to me.”

For 15 years, Norris hid behind a surgical mask and put off public outings until nighttime so fewer people would see his face.

“I can now go out and not get the stares and have to hear comments that people would make,” he said.

With his new face, Norris can eat, taste, smell, smile and talk.

“Richard is exceeding my expectations this soon after his surgery, and he deserves a great deal of credit for the countless hours spent practicing his speech and strengthening his new facial muscles,” said Norris’ surgeon, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. “He’s one of the most courageous and committed individuals I know.”

The goal for Norris’s transplant, according to Rodriguez, was to “restore facial harmony and functional balance in the most aesthetic manner possible.”

The marathon operation was one of 22 done worldwide since 2005, and one of six done in the U.S., including those done on Charla Nash and Dallas Weins.

“We began this research more than 10 years ago when we saw the devastating injuries sustained by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from improvised explosive devices,” Dr. Stephen Bartlett, surgeon-in-chief and senior vice president at the University of Maryland Medical System, said in a written statement. “Now having seen how this surgery has changed Richard’s life, we are even more dedicated to researching ways to improve facial transplantation and helping more patients, including military veterans, return to normal lives after undergoing this same surgery.”

Norris still goes for routine checkups to make sure his face is healing properly on top of regular sessions of physical and speech therapy.

“Each day it improves a little more,” he said of his ability to talk. “I am doing well. I spend a lot of my time fishing and working on my golf game. I am also enjoying time with my family and friends.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Virginia Man Receives New Face in Transplant

University of Maryland Medical Center(WASHINGTON) -- Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center performed the most extensive full face transplant to date, replacing everything from the hairline to the collar bone of a 37-year-old man, including the upper and lower jaw bones, teeth, and a portion of the tongue. The operation took place over 36 hours on March 19 and 20 and involved more than 200 medical professionals.

The face transplant was part of a 72-hour marathon of organ donation at the center, in which five patients received organs from one anonymous donor.

The effort is being hailed as remarkable for the generosity of the donor and the scope of the operation, as well as scientific advancements that enabled the transplant.

A week after the surgery, the recipient of the face, Richard Norris of Hillsville, Virginia, is moving his jaws, opening and closing his eyes, brushing his teeth and shaving, doctors said in a press conference Tuesday.

Norris suffered a gun accident in 1997 that left him with just a skull, eyes and part of his jaw. Doctors said he has been living in near-seclusion since the accident, wearing a mask when he went out in public. Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, the surgeon leading the operation, said he had performed 12 different surgeries on Norris since 2005, but was never able to restore his face.

With the transplant, "we were able to restore those 15 years that he's lost and make him a functioning member of society once again," Rodriguez said.

The face transplant was part of a 72-hour operation at the hospital during which four other patients received organs donated from the same anonymous donor -- a heart, lung, liver and kidney.

The process began at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, when the donor was identified and doctors began to evaluate characteristics for a match-like skin tone and overall health. At 4 a.m. on Monday, the team began a 12-hour effort to remove the face from the donor. Doctors then connected the bones, muscles, tongue, nerves and blood vessels to Norris, using computers to guide them. The surgery was complete at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The surgery was the 23rd face transplant since doctors began doing the procedure in 2005.

Dr. Stephen Bartlett, chair of the department of surgery at the University of Maryland, said the operation was the culmination of 10 years of research funded by the Office of Naval Research, which hopes to put the knowledge to use for soldiers injured in combat.

Bartlett said his research team discovered that using the whole jaw bone made it easier for the body to handle the transplant.

"We believe that scientific finding will allow Mr. Norris to have much more long-term chance of success with much lower levels of immune suppression," Bartlett said.

Rodriguez said Norris has been able to see his new face already.

Three days after surgery, "he wanted to see a mirror," Rodriguez said. After seeing his new face, "he put the mirror down and thanked me and hugged me."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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