Steady advances in face transplants have led to a remarkable reunion of sorts: A woman has met the man now wearing her brother's face. The encounter between Rebekah Aversano and Richard Norris took place in Norris' Virginia home before the cameras of 60 Minutes Australia, reports the Guardian. "Wow," said Aversano, who stroked Norris' cheek after asking his permission to do so. "This is the face I grew up with." The face transplant took place in 2012, one of the most extensive such operations ever done. The Averson family of Maryland donated the face of 21-year-old Joshua, who had been killed after being struck by a car.
In the 36-hour operation, surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center transplanted Averson's jaw, tongue, skin, and muscle and nerve tissue onto Norris, who is now 39 and had been disfigured in a shotgun accident in 1997, recounts CNN. Norris, who had only a 50% chance of surviving the surgery, still must take anti-rejection drugs daily, and he can neither drink nor get sunburned. Still, "I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look," he said after the procedure. (It sounds nuts, but one doctor says he plans to do a head transplant.)