Hillsville man has new face after groundbreaking transplant - Waynesboro News Virginian: Lifestyles

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Hillsville man has new face after groundbreaking transplant

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Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 1:02 pm | Updated: 1:35 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

A Hillsville man has a new view on life, thanks to a brand new face donated anonymously, and a team of surgeons in Maryland.

Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center performed the most extensive full face transplant ever in the U.S. over 36 hours March 19-20th.

Richard Lee Norris, 37, was hurt back in 1997 in a gun accident.  He lost his lips and nose, and had limited ability to move his mouth according to doctors.  Since then, Norris has had multiple surgeries to save his life, and rebuild his face.  But nothing like the surgery Norris underwent last week.

The procedure is called a vascularized composite allograft (VCA).

"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. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, who headed up the surgical team, and is the chief of plastic, reconstructive and maxillofacial surgery at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.  "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 before and after pictures show a dramatic change.  Norris' face has filled back in after the transplant.

"This accomplishment is the culmination of more than 10 years researching the immune system's response to vascular composite allograft transplants," said Dr. Stephen T. Bartlett, Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Surgeon-in-Chief at the University of Maryland Medical Center.  "Our solid organ transplant immunosuppressive protocol has led to excellent outcomes for our patients, and will be part of the long-term care plan for the face transplant patient."  

"The resources and talent that made this complex organizational effort a reality was months in the making and touched all areas of the hospital," said Jeffrey A. Rivest, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center.  "The Medical Center staff is honored to care for patients and families facing such tremendously complex medical challenges."

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