A man models a face transplant on the cover of a major men’s magazine years after shooting his face off in a tragic accident, and he hopes his story will encourage others living with facial deformities. This inspirational tale of triumph and overcoming adversity features one brave man and his struggle for acceptance after losing most of his face at the young age of 22.
Richard Norris was a handsome young man with thick eyebrows and soulful brown eyes back in 1997 when he blasted himself in the face with a shotgun in his family’s living room. His mother was standing just out of arm’s reach when it happened. Bloody bits of her son’s destroyed face splattered her body in a nightmarish scene worthy of the most horrific horror movies. According to GQ, the accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound effectively took “his nose, cheekbones, lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, and chin.” Thankfully, Norris retained his eyes and his eyesight. There wasn’t much else left.
For the next 15 years, he struggled with the reflection in the mirror. His face was deformed beyond recognition. Facial features were destroyed. The natural curves of his face were caved in. His nose was a reconstructed blob of flesh. Even with substantial surgical reconstruction, Norris was unrecognizable.
A decade and a half later, Norris received the face transplant that would transform his life. Instead of being the man without a face, he is the man who models a face transplant on the cover of GQ. The man who performed this miraculous transformation was a surgeon named Eduardo Rodriguez. In a 36-hour surgical procedure, he and his skilled team removed the destroyed remnants of Norris’s face and replaced the snarl of scar tissue and lumps of malformed flesh with the face of a recently deceased 21-year-old man. The operation was a success.
There have been face transplants in the United States before, but there haven’t been that many. The first one performed in the states took place in 2005. There have been a total of 28 since then, and none of them involved as great a scope as Norris’s did. His surgeon told GQ that the procedure was like landing on the moon. Groundbreaking.
Richard Norris is a 39-year-old man now. He has a life. He has a girlfriend. He can speak with the use of the tongue of a donor cadaver in his mouth, but some of the words are difficult to understand. That in itself is a small price to pay for what he has gained, but it isn’t all wine and roses. Norris can’t drive due to a risk of having seizures. He lives at home with his parents. He feels like a “lab rat,” according to a Yahoo report. Life isn’t perfect. Then again, it never is.
At least the man who spent more than a decade living with the caricature of a face can proudly pose for photographs, grant interviews, and aspire to inspire others. That in itself is nearly as miraculous as the surgical procedure that gave Richard Norris the chance at an average life. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Norris’s face transplant was first revealed last year.
What do you think about Richard Norris’s story? Feel free to leave a comment on how the man who models a face transplant on GQ this month has inspired you.
[Image via New York Daily News]