Plastic surgeons at University of Maryland performed the most complex facial reconstruction surgery to date, which included the replacements of both jaws, teeth, facial soft tissue from the scalp to the neck and sensory muscles indispensable to facial expression.

Transplant recipient 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia seen in three different stages of his live. Left: pre-accident; middle: before transplant; right: after. (c) University of Maryland Medical Center

Transplant recipient 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia seen in three different stages of his life. Left: pre-accident; middle: before transplant; right: after. (c) University of Maryland Medical Center

The procedure was part of a 72 hour transplant marathon, aftern an anonymous donor generously donated his face and organs in a heroic act. Over the course of just a few days, the medical staff at University of Maryland Medical Center performed several transplant surgeries which saved the lives of five people.

For the first time in the world, a team of over 150 nurses and professional staff have performed a full face transplant at the end of an agonizing 36-hour operation which occurred on March 19-20, 2012 at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“We utilized innovative surgical practices and computerized techniques to precisely transplant the mid-face, maxilla and mandible including teeth, and a portion of the tongue. In addition, the transplant included all facial soft tissue from the scalp to the neck, including the underlying muscles to enable facial expression, and sensory and motor nerves to restore feeling and function,” explains Dr. Eduardo Rodriquez, 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. “Our goal is to restore function as well as have aesthetically pleasing results.”

The face transplant recipient is 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris, who was severely mutilated following a gun accident in 1997, when he lost his lips, nose and was left with a limited movement of his mouth. Since then, Norris has performed numerous reconstructive surgeries, culminating with this extraordinary feat of modern medicine

“The future of medicine depends on rapid translation of research and creating high-performing teams. The face transplant is a perfect example of the life-changing options we can provide for our patients when we combine the expertise of our research and clinical teams to pursue procedures that would have seemed unfathomable not so long ago,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president of medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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