By Stephanie Stahl
BALTIMORE, MD (CBS) – Doctors in Baltimore revealed the results of a historic surgery after they performed a full face transplant last week.
It’s being called the first full face transplant because it included the tongue and teeth. Now, the patient has his life back for the first time in years.
“I have never seen anything this remarkable,” said Dr. Thomas Scalea, with the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Richard Norris was the patient, who was in a gun accident 15 years ago. It left him horribly disfigured. He became a recluse, and only ventured out with a mask.
The 37-year-old looks completely different a week after the face transplant.
“This is truly an amazing feat. It’s also an unprecedented and historic procedure that we believe will change the face of medicine now and in the future,” said Dr. Albert Reece, with the University of Maryland Medical Center.
In the 36-hour operation at the University of Maryland Medical Center, a face, donated from an unidentified deceased person, was transplanted. This included the soft tissue from the hairline to the neck. And surgeons say they also used the teeth, tongue and jaw for the first time, making it a full face transplant.
“This is expected to improve the lives and well-being of scores of patient who before were without hope,” said Dr. Reece.
Doctors say Richard is recovering well and is already brushing his teeth and shaving. And he’s also regained his sense of smell.
Richard is the 23rd person to receive a face transplant. The first was done seven years ago. And now, the military is funding transplant research in hopes of eventually helping wounded soldiers.