Face transplants are one of the most life-changing - yet complex - medical operations available today. These dangerous surgeries require teams of over 30 people, and often take over a day to complete. But despite the risk and recovery time, patients who have had them say a successful operation gives them their lives back.
Richard Lee Norris was left disfigured after a horrific shotgun incident. He underwent one of the most complex face transplants in history, a 36 hour surgery which included transplantation of the teeth, a portion of the tongue, upper and lower jaw, and all of the tissue from the scalp to the base of the neck.
Mr Norris only had 50 percent chance of surviving the surgery, but he and his doctor, Dr Eduardo Rodrigue from the University of Maryland Medical Center, agreed it was worth the risk. The surgery was a success and Mr Norris now has his life back. The surgery also allowed doctors to learn about how to treat soldiers and other people with facial injuries.
You can see his surgical procedure here.
Patrick Hardison suffered extensive facial burns in 2001. He was working as a volunteer firefighter when he entered a burning home and the roof collapsed on him. He lost his eyelids, ears, lips, and most of his nose, as well as his hair.
After a year of preparation, his surgeon, Dr. Rodriguez, was able to replace most of his face with that of a donors’.
When Dallas Wiens was in his early twenties, his face was severely injured after he made contact with a high-voltage wire while painting a church.
Most of his face was burned off, and he was left permanently blind, without lips, a nose or eyebrows.
In March 2011, a transplant team performed a 15 hour full face transplant on him. As a result, he will need to take immune-suppressant drugs for the rest of his life.
Carmen Blandin Tarleton received a full face transplant during a 15 hour operation at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston after she was attacked by her estranged husband who covered her in industrial strength lye.
During her operation, 30 surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses worked to replace her skin, muscles, tendons and nerves.
Donor tissue was used to cover Ms Tarleton's face - a gift she is incredibly thankful for.
Charla Nash was attacked by an angry chimpanzee in 2009. As a result, she lost her hands, nose, eyes, lips, and mid-face bone structure, and received significant brain tissue injuries.
In June 2011, Ms Nash underwent transplant surgery, and received a donated face and hands. While this was initially successful, doctors were forced to remove her newly transplanted hands due to an infection.