Woman meets man who received her brother's face in transplant

Man made medical history as first ever full face transplant

Woman Meets Man Who Received Her Brother's Face in Transplant
This is the moment when Rebekah Aversano met Richard Norris, the man who now has her brother's face.

Richard made medical history when he received the first ever full face transplant in 2012. He was just 23 years old when a shotgun blast accidentally blew away half of his face in 1997.

Rebekah's 21-year-old brother Joshua had died in 2012 when he was hit by a car.

"You look wonderful," Rebekah, 28, told Richard on meeting him. "You have my brother's face. It's hard to see where my brother ends and you begin. I definitely see my brother in you."

Difficult decision

"Losing my brother was the hardest thing I ever went through," she told Inside Edition. "It was completely and utterly devastating."

In the midst of this heartbreaking crisis, doctors asked the family to make a difficult decision. "They asked us if we would consider donating his face," she said. "They told us it was Richard's only hope."

After his accident, Richard lived as a recluse for 15 years, rarely going outdoors and hiding his face behind a mask. Rebekah added: "We have power to give someone another chance at life."

Her brother's face was close to an ideal match, so Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez outlined the 36-hour operation at the University Of Maryland Medical Centre. He led a massive team of 150 doctors and nurses transplanting bone skin and facial muscles.

Today, Richard can barely believe his transformation, saying: "No words to describe it. I have a face back."