Woman meets the man who wears her brother's face

Woman Meets The Man Who Wears Her Brother's Face
Woman Meets The Man Who Wears Her Brother's Face

A man who received a face transplant after a fatal accident left him disfigured finally met with the family that made it all possible.

Most of Richard Norris' face was deformed after a gun accident in 1997. In 2012, doctors at the University of Maryland gave him a completely new face - one that once belonged to Joshua Aversano. After he died in a tragic car accident earlier that year, his family donated his face for transplant.

Three years later, Norris and Aversano's sister Rebekah met for the first time.

"60 Minutes Australia" caught the emotional encounter on camera. And while the moment is bound to touch viewer's hearts, the science that made it all possible will open doors for so many patients.

The team of doctors that operated on Norris spent 36 hours constructing an entirely new face in one of the most complex face transplants in history. Norris chose to go through with the procedure even though doctors gave him a 50 percent chance of survival.

Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who performed the surgery, told NBC News that Norris' transplant pushes the boundaries of medical science. They gave him a nose, teeth, jaw, tongue and nerves so he could smile again. He also regained his sense of smell.

The University of Maryland says the surgery involved ten years of research that will also serve as a model for helping war veterans injured by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.

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