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at the University of Maryland, and a more extensive one on Hardison in 2015 at NYU Langone. A third one is on the near horizon. “These men had to conceal them-


selves from the world,” Rodriguez says. “Their lives came to an absolute halt.”


T


he first partial face transplant was performed in France in 2005 on a woman who had been


mauled by a dog. The first full facial transplant was performed in Spain in 2010. More than 30 facial transplants have been done worldwide, but just five in the United States. Some in the medical world consid-


ered facial transplants risky and con- troversial, and Rodriguez understood that facial transplants — especially extensive, full face operations — would be daunting, at least partly because the donor must be an almost perfect match with the recipient. “You’re really looking for the ideal


donor,” says Helen Irving, president and CEO of LiveOnNY, 1 of 58 procure- ment groups around the country and the agency that found a new face for Hardison after a year-long search. “The bone structure and skin tone


have to be just right,” Irving says. “With Patrick, you’re talking about a young white male with a fair complexion and the right shape of face. Finding any or- gan donor is like looking for a needle in a haystack. For facial donors, you’re trying to find a needle in 30 haystacks.” That needle came in the form of the


face of a 26-year-old bike mechanic named David Rodebaugh, who was killed in a cycling accident. Rodriguez said both full facial trans-


plants he’s done have required teams of more than 100 surgeons, nurses, cardiologists, technicians, and other medical personnel. Psychiatrists and psychologists are


brought in to evaluate the transplant candidates and determine whether they are mature and responsible enough to deal with the surgery and its aftermath and likely to stay the course by religiously taking large doses of im- munosuppressants and other medica- tions to ward off rejection. Such surgeries can cost from


$300,000 to $1 million and doctors and researchers must rely on grants. The Department of Defense and the Of- fice of Naval Research have granted various hospitals millions of dollars


RICHARD NORRIS was 23 when he blew off half of his face with a shotgun. Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, along with a team of surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center, in 2012 performed what was then the most extensive facial transplant in history. Below: Norris before the surgery, six days later and 114 days after the 36-hour operation. At right, Norris today with his girlfriend Melanie Solis.


to fund transplant operations and re- search that could ultimately benefit maimed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. By the time Richard Norris’ surgery


day came around, Rodriguez and his team had done several “practice” runs on paired cadavers. “I’d say I’ve done about 50 on cadav-


ers over my career,” Rodriguez says. “Seven before I did Patrick’s. The two procedures were somewhat


BEFORE 58 NEWSMAX | MAY 2018


AFTER 6 DAYS


AFTER 114 DAYS


TODAY


BEFORE & AFTER/ UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL / NORRIS & GIRLFRIEND COURTESY OF PATRICK NORRIS


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