Richard Lee Norris isn’t a big name in pop culture, but he sure is in the medical community.
In the August issue of GQ magazine, Norris will break boundaries, opening up about life after face transplant surgery, and how drastically different it’s been for him since then.
Norris, 39, underwent one of the most complex face transplants in history, receiving teeth, a jaw, and even a tongue from multiple organ donors. The 36-hour feat was extremely controversial because Norris only had a 50 percent chance of surviving the operation, but he opted for it to be done against the will of many. For Norris, this was more than just a face transplant, it was a shot at a new life.
Back in 1997, Norris suffered from a horrible accident. A then 22-year-old Norris came home drunk and got into an argument with his mother. Norris took a shotgun from his gun cabinet and told his mom he was going to shoot himself. He racked a shell into the chamber and the gun went off, shooting him in the face.
Although this miracle face transplant has helped give Norris a new life, it has also given him a new set of burdens to deal with. Because the face is not an organ, rejection of the transplant is a high possibility – even two years after the operation. Norris’ immune system is constantly attacking itself, trying to reject the transplant, and that’s where the medication comes in.
The immunosuppressant medications help prevent the immune system from triggering rejection, but the even more intriguing question is how long that will actually last. Doctors predict the transplant will last for 20-30 more years, but with all of the natural risks involved, 20-30 years may seem a little ambitious.
Norris is also at a higher risk for complications and even death from something as simple as the common cold. He can’t get a sunburn, he can’t drink, he can’t fall and risk injury — anything taxing on his immune system is basically not permitted at all.
Norris’ mother also talked to GQ about her son’s operation:
“I don’t think he’ll ever be able to work like in a normal life. He spends his time in hospitals, everybody poking and prodding, studying him. A boss don’t want somebody that’s gonna be absent 99 percent of the time.”
So why go through all of these complications? Norris tells the magazine:
“A drop of hope can create an ocean, but a bucket of faith can create an entire world.”
The new issue of GQ will hit newsstands on August 29th.
SOURCE: GQ | PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Winters/GQ