A woman had seen her dead brothers’ face on another person due to the groundbreaking face transplant procedure conducted in the U.S.
Her brother, Joshua Aversano, who had passed away in a devastating car accident in 2012 at the age of 21, left his family behind and with a difficult decision to make – whether they should donate Joshua’s face to save the life of another man, multiple sources state.
The family decided to donate Joshua’s face and Richard Norris would benefit from such a face transplant procedure.
Richard Norris from Virginia, U.S. had a shotgun accident 15 years ago and was left severely injured. Even though he had many operations, they had an overall unsuccessful outcome on Richard and he barely left his house for over 10 years.
The surgery was the most complex face transplant procedure in history where a team of surgeons at the University of Maryland transplanted his teeth, jaw, tongue, muscle, and nerves for 36 hours.
Donors and transplant recipients usually do not get to meet each other, but Ms. Aversano met her brothers’ face transplant recipient who had the same facial features and structures as her dead brother.
Footage is shown where Ms. Aversano touches Richard Norris’s face and says, “This is the face I grew up with.”- Channel 9’s 60 Minutes from Australia reports.
The donor’s mother, Gwen Aversano, stated in an interview for CTV News that making such a decision to donate her sons’ face was difficult, but she knew that he would of wanted the same.
She also added, “After meeting Mr Norris and seeing him and speaking to him, we can definitely see our son in him. We were just so pleased that we were able to help Mr Norris, even though we had such a tragic loss.”
James Partridge, founder of the charity, “Changing Faces”, told BBC that he had never heard of a situation where the donors had met the face transplant recipient.
Seven months after the procedure, Norris exhibits remarkable progress. Norris can smile and show facial expressions, as well as smell, taste, and eat. After the face transplant procedure, about 80% of the right side of his face expresses normal motor function and about 40% on his left side, the team of surgeons state.