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News Americas

The university surgery team gave a new face to a man who had lost much of his face after a gunshot wound more than a decade ago.(Photo: University of Maryland Medical Center)
Jul 14, 2012 | News Americas

Dental, facial reconstructive surgeons perform most extensive full-face transplant

by Surgical Tribune

BALTIMORE, Md., USA: Surgeons at the University of Maryland in Baltimore have reported the transplantation of an entire face onto a 37-year-old man. Along with facial tissue, they also transplanted a tongue, teeth, and upper and lower jaw successfully. The procedure is considered to be the world's most extensive full-face transplant.

The face was donated by the family of a deceased anonymous donor. The recipient, Richard Lee Norris from Hillsville, Virginia, was left severely disfigured after a gun accident that occurred 15 years ago. Besides having lost his lips and nose, his jawline was almost destroyed, leaving him with only limited movement of the mouth. He first approached doctors at the university in 2005 to discuss surgical options.


The extensive surgery was conducted in late March by a multidisciplinary team of over 150 medical professionals and lasted 36 hours. According to the university, this is the first time in history that a full-face transplant has been completed by a team of plastic and reconstructive surgeons experienced in both trauma, as well as dental and facial reconstruction.

"We utilized innovative surgical practices and computerized techniques to precisely transplant the midface, maxilla and mandible, including teeth, and a portion of the tongue," explained Dr. Rodriguez, lead surgeon and associate professor of surgery. "In addition, the transplant included all facial soft tissue from the scalp to the neck, including muscles to enable facial expression, and sensory and motor nerves to restore feeling and function."

The surgeons said that their aim was to restore function and to achieve aesthetically pleasing results.

Although this is the most extensive transplantation in the world to date, a number of similar procedures have been conducted since the first face transplant was performed on a French patient in 2005. The first full-face transplant was completed successfully in Spain in 2010. Like Norris, the patient in this case had shot himself in the face accidentally.

The project was financially supported by the U.S. Navy, which hopes to gain better insights into the reconstruction of the wounded faces of returning soldiers.

Watch the video about the full face transplant:

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