Face Transplant Patient Celebrates Life in Public

8:16 AM, Jun 28, 2013   |    comments
Face transplant recipient Richard Lee Norris, the recipient of the most extensive face transplant performed to date, is seen a photo taken before the face transplant, left, and in a photo made 114 days after the transplant was performed. Norris, 37, was injured in a gun accident in 1997. / AP
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BALTIMORE (AP) - In the 15 years between a shotgun blast that ravaged the bottom half of Richard Norris' face and the face transplant that ended a hermit-like life for him, the man from rural southwest Virginia faced cruelty from strangers, fought addiction and contemplated suicide.

Now, at 38, he's starting a new life: taking online classes in pursuit of a degree in information systems and contemplating a foundation to help defray future transplant patients' everyday expenses during treatment.

He also has been working with a photojournalist who just completed a book about his journey, titled "The Two Faces of Richard."

He hopes his story sends a message of hope to people in similar situations and encourages empathy in others.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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