Full Face Transplant Gives New Lease of Life to Virginia Resident
The most extensive full face transplant was concluded recently at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in the University of Maryland, according to a press release issued by the University.
The surgery was conducted on March 19-20, 2012 and lasted for 36 hours. It involved transplantation of jaws, teeth and tongue, besides all the soft tissues from the scalp to the neck including muscles and nerves.
The team that conducted the transplant included faculty physicians from the University, and more than 150 nurses and professional staff. It was led by Eduardo D. Rodriguez, M.D., D.D.S., associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of plastic, reconstructive and maxillofacial surgery at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The team not only included surgeons well experienced in treating high-velocity ballistic facial injuries, it also included researchers and scientists who had been studying on ways to reduce rejection of organs and minimize side effects of drugs used to suppress immunity following transplantation.
The team used the latest in surgical and computerized techniques to transplant the face. The aim of the surgery was not only to have a normal-looking face, but also to restore the functions and feelings of the face, including facial expression.
The grafts for the face transplant were obtained from an anonymous donor, whose family donated not only the face, but also other organs which saved the lives of five other people.
The recipient was 37-year old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia who had injured his face in a gun accident in 1997. Due to this accident, he had lost his lips, nose and had limited movement of the mouth. Following the surgery, Richard is said to be recovering well and is already brushing his teeth and shaving. He is also said to have regained his sense of smell.
The surgery provides good news for people with severe face injuries waiting for a face transplant.