Va. man injured in gun accident gets new face

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Richard Lee Norris is shown before and after the surgery. (Photo credit: University of Maryland)

BALTIMORE — A 37-year-old Virginia man injured in a 1997 gun accident has received what University of Maryland physicians say is the most extensive face transplant ever performed.

University of Maryland Medical Center officials announced Tuesday that Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville is recovering well after last week’s surgery and is already brushing his teeth and shaving. The 36-hour procedure, which included teeth, tongue and upper and lower jaw, has given Norris his life back, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez said.

It was the 23rd face transplant since doctors began doing the procedure seven years ago. Rodriguez says this one is the most extensive because of the inclusion of the tongue and teeth and because the incisions are farther back and less visible.

The first full face transplant was done in France in 2005 on a woman who was mauled by her dog. The Cleveland Clinic performed the first face transplant in the United States in 2008.

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This story was written and provided by The Associated Press Wire.  (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)