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Richard Norris got full facial transplant, is now on the cover of GQ

Man Who Underwent Full Facial Transplant Featured In GQ

For 15 years, Richard Norris lived in seclusion with his parents in rural Virginia -- now, he and his new face are featured in GQ. Before his surgery, the mirrors in their home were all covered because Norris couldn't bear to see his reflection after accidentally shooting himself in the face with a shotgun.

Warning: Photos get graphic after the slide 5 in gallery

Norris underwent a full facial transplant in March 2012, and his story is featured on the latest cover of GQ, which is well known for its celebrity cover models.

Writer Jeanne Marie Laskas asks, "What's it like to live with a face that wasn't yours -- and that may never quite be?"

The GQ story explains that one day while searching the Internet, Norris' mother discovered Eduardo Rodriguez, a reconstructive facial surgeon from the University of Maryland who "promised Richard he would make him normal."

The face came from a donor, 21-year-old Joshua Aversano, who was killed in a road accident. The 36-hour surgery didn't come without risks.

According to Mayo Clinic, facial transplant patients have to remain on drugs to suppress their immune systems for the rest of their lives, making them vulnerable to disease.

GQ's story is compelling, and the fact that it's displayed on the cover is sparking further conversation.

The Telegraph writes, "The star of [GQ's] latest American issue marks a radical departure for the magazine, and provides one of the most extraordinary and life-affirming stories in its history."

In a similar editorial decision last month, Australian Women's Weekly featured a burn victim on its cover.

That choice garnered major praise from other media outlets like Refinery29 and USA Today and from the public and journalists alike on social media.

And the GQ story fulfills part of the mission Rodriguez saw for his patient years ago. In 2012, Rodriguez told CNN Norris could become an inspiration: "Just to see him and the potential he has to integrate in society and be a spokesperson for patients with these types of injuries ... and will be the right person to lead this charge to help others."

You can head to GQ's website or pick up its latest issue to read Norris' full story.

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Join the discussion

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Chucky1 July 31 2014 at 9:49 AM

We will never know the true story about what really happened that day. And based on the information provided we can only speculate what happened. The pain, both emotional and physical, he suffered must have been tremendous. And yet through it all HIS Parents stuck by him and found someone who might make a difference in his life.
The challenges he must face are not over and the risks are still there because of the transplant. I hope and pray that life will go better for him and that the love of family will sustain him.
For those who submitted cruel comments. Your souls must be thoroughly disfigured and painful as that young mans face. Hopefully a spiritual transplant will change your life for the better.

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1 reply
Dude Chucky1 July 31 2014 at 3:51 PM

The challenger he must "face"? You really said that?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Postalpal July 31 2014 at 10:03 AM

Extraordinary and bitter sweet at the same time. I am sorry he has suffered so and wish him the very very best. It should make us all more appreciative of what we have.

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elcmy00 July 31 2014 at 11:39 AM

Wow! I thought I was bitter and judgmental. I've got nothing on the people posting comments here.
Can't you just see the story for what it was meant to be? This is a man who's life was literally taken away from an accident or maybe even bad intentions, who has gotten a new lease on life. We are witnessing his rebirth.
But it's not about him alone. It's about "hope" for the person who is disfigured from a workplace accident, or is mauled by an animal, or the victim of a crime.
There is a lot of sympathy for the 21 yr old donor, but what if he was killed while illegally drag racing. The sympathy goes right out the window!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
JC July 31 2014 at 11:35 AM

Congratulations to Mr. Norris, and many thanks for the incredible skill of Dr. Rodriguez.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
andallthatjazz013 July 31 2014 at 12:07 PM

Why should it be NO SURPRISE that once again the morons have a heyday with yet another story on "AOL TODAY."
I swear to God, you people can take any story... ANY STORY... and twist it for your entertainment.
All I can say is thank God you're here online instead of within my vision of sight!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
duey35 July 31 2014 at 11:27 AM

Don't like your face , blow it off with a shotgun, get a new one. I don't think it qualifies as the moral of the story.

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5 replies
Hi Nancy July 31 2014 at 3:53 PM

Wow! He looks great. What a wonderful job on his face. I thank the donor family for donating their sons face. This man has now has a life and a face, I thank the docotrs for doing this and for the family who lost a son thank you for this wonderful act of kindness Nanners

Flag Reply +3 rate up
cigary43 July 31 2014 at 3:47 PM

Wow...what a great thing and I bet he's so thankful for this.

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Linda Jones July 31 2014 at 11:33 AM

It takes a special kind of stupid to shoot yourself in the face.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
4 replies
Mike July 31 2014 at 1:11 PM

I'll be the NRA didn't pay for the surgery.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
4 replies
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