Pictures of a 37-year-old face man injured in a gun accident have been released seven months after he received an extensive face transplant.
Richard Lee Norris lost most of his upper and lower jaws as well as his lips and nose after the incident in 1997.
Norris had lived as a recluse for much for much of his life thereafter, before receiving transplant surgery in March this year.
On Monday, surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center released pictures of their patient seven months on.
Norris said: “For the past 15 years I lived as a recluse, hiding behind a surgical mask and doing most of my shopping at night when less people were around.
“People used to stare at me because of my disfigurement. Now they stare at me in amazement and in the transformation I have taken. “
Norris began making remarkable strides in his recovery just a week after the 36-hour surgery was carried out.
Within a week he was brushing his teeth and shaving.
Dr Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the marathon operation says Norris’s procedure is one of the most extensive because of the inclusion of the tongue and teeth and because the incisions are farther back and less visible.
Norris now has sensation in his face, is able to smile and is regaining his speech.
SEE ALSO: Texas Mother To Have Double Arm Transplant After Losing Every Limb To Flesh-Eating Infection
Now an golfer and fisherman, he said: “I can now start working on the new life given back to me.”
The first full face transplant was carried out in France in 2005 on Isabelle Dinoire, who was mauled by her dog.
Check out these other organ transplant breakthroughs:
<strong>When and Where:</strong> July 2011, Spain A young man in his 20s underwent a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/12/double-leg-transplant-first_n_896442.html" target="_hplink">10-hour surgery in Valencia</a> just last Sunday to give him a new set of legs. Doctors hope that the patient will be able to walk with the help of crutches within about a year -- depending on how his nerves regenerate. A double-leg transplant had never been attempted before, in large part because in most cases of leg amputation, highly effective prosthetic legs can be used instead. The effectiveness of this surgery remains to be seen, but Dr. Pedro Cavadas, the doctor who performed the surgery, is hopeful. Dr. Cavadas <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/12/double-leg-transplant-first_n_896442.html" target="_hplink">also performed the first face and double-hand transplants</a> done in Spain. Photo Credit: Getty
<strong>When and Where:</strong> July 2011, Sweden Not only did this surgery mark the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/artificial-windpipe-transplant_n_892350.html" target="_hplink">first time an artificial windpipe was transplanted</a>, but it also marked the first time any synthetic organ had been transplanted. The windpipe was created in a lab in England and then coated in the patient's stem cells before the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/artificial-windpipe-transplant_n_892350.html" target="_hplink">12-hour surgery began</a>. These cells mean that he does not have to fear organ rejection, as most transplant patients do and is not on any sort of immunosuppressive drugs.
<strong>When and Where: </strong>March 2010, Spain Also performed in Spain, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/26/oscar-first-full-face-tra_n_659196.html" target="_hplink">world's first full-face transplant</a> occurred just last year (the first partial-face transplant happened in 2005). The patient was a 31-year-old farmer who had accidentally shot himself in the face a few years prior. He is still undergoing physical therapy, although much of the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/26/oscar-first-full-face-tra_n_659196.html" target="_hplink">sensation in his face has returned</a> and his muscles have developed. Only a week after the transplant, he began to grow a beard. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/09/face-transplant-press-conference_n_859391.html?" target="_hplink">first full-face transplant in the United States</a> occurred this past May.
U.S. Double-Hand Transplant
<strong>When and Where:</strong> May 2009, Pittsburgh Although it was the ninth double-hand transplant in the world, the nine-hour surgery marked the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/06/double-hand-transplant-ge_n_198538.html" target="_hplink">first time that this procedure had been done in the United States</a>. Georgia native Jeff Kepner, 58, had lost his hands 10 years earlier to a bacterial infection. Although the surgery was an initial success, Kepner is <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/26/double.hand.transplant/index.html" target="_hplink">still undergoing intensive physical therapy</a> and has not regained full control over his new apendages. Photo Credit: Getty
More and more, technological innovation is the driving force behind saving lives through transplantation. At recent TED conferences, two lectures were given that clearly demonstrated the exciting progress that is on the horizon. At TEDMED 2010, thoracic surgeon, Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, M.D., <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/31/tedmed-2010-superorgans_n_811894.html" target="_hplink">showed the audience a machine that allows an organ to survive</a> for an extended period of time outside of the body at a normal temperature. This allows an organ to be examined and treated before it is put into the recipient's body. Keshavejee demonstrated the machine's efficacy by allowing audience members to come up at touch a live pig's lung that had been recovered earlier that day. At a TED conference this past March, <a href="http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-surgeon-kidney-ted-stage.html" target="_hplink">Dr. Anthony Atala used a bioprinting machine</a> to print out the mold of a human kidney. As this technology is developed further, scientists hope that it could eventually (most likely not for years) lead to the ability to print out fully-functional, artificial organs.