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

Man Who Underwent Full Facial Transplant Featured In 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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