Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes Australia featured a story that is equal parts sentimental, incredible, and unusual.
Titled “Her Brother’s Face,” it followed Rebecca Aversano as she entered the Maryland home of Richard Norris. Norris received a facial transplant in 2012 thanks to the selflessness of the Aversano family.
Joshua Aversano died in a car accident in 2012. His family donated his organs, including his face, which has since transformed not just Norris’s appearance, but his life, too.
The 39-year-old was severely disfigured by an accidental shotgun blast to his face in 1997. Norris said that, prior to the surgery, he led a largely reclusive life, The Guardian reported. He previously underwent other unsuccessful surgeries that did little to improve Norris’s quality of life; he used to wear masks or go out at night in order to avoid the stares others.
Here’s a before and after photo that ran at the time:
[credits text=”AP Photo/ University of Maryland Medical Center” class=”credits-img-wrapper alignnone size-full wp-image-76613″][/credits]
The surgery was performed by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, and was one of the most complex face transplants in history. Norris had a 50 percent chance of survival, but went ahead anyway, describing his quality of life at that point as “hell.”