The University of Maryland announced that a full face transplant, including both jaws and tongue, was completed on 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia.
The 36-hour procedure took place at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. It involved a multi-disciplinary team of more than 150 professionals from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The face transplant team was led by Eduardo D. Rodriguez, MD, an 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.
"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 Rodriquez in a press release. "Our goal is to restore function as well as have aesthetically pleasing results."
Norris was injured in a gun accident in 1997. As a result, he lost his lips and nose and had limited movement of his mouth. Norris first came to the University of Maryland Medical Center in 2005 to discuss reconstructive options.
The surgeons benefited from their experience treating high-velocity ballistic facial injuries at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. The team also includes research scientists and physician scientists from the University of Maryland’s Division of Transplantation who have been researching ways to reduce rejection of donated organs and minimize the side effects of long-term immunosuppressive use after transplantation.
Up until now, a total of 18 patients have received facial transplants in the US and abroad.