For fifteen years, Richard Norris had a face too hideous to show. Then, one day, a maverick doctor gave him a miracle too fantastic to believe. Richard got a face transplant, a new life.
Richard Norris was 22 when he shot himself in the face. This was back in 1997. He doesn’t remember how or why it happened, but his mom, who was three feet away, said it was an accident. She remembers pieces of Richard’s face showering her body. This was in the living room. The gunshot had blown off his nose, cheekbones, lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, and chin, leaving just his wide brown eyes and a swirl of nameless twisted flesh.
Then one day, searching on the Internet, his mom found Eduardo Rodriguez, a Baltimore reconstructive facial surgeon. He promised Richard he would make him normal. Rodriguez and his team worked nonstop for thirty-six hours, and when they were finished, Richard’s mom looked at her son and felt like he was somehow resurrected. "We have Richard back!" she said on the phone to Richard’s dad, who had not had much of anything to say for many years.
With his new face, Richard, now 39, became a media sensation for a time, the story of the miracle told many times over until it hardened even in Richard’s mind into a kind of precious jewel.
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