"This is the face I grew up with," Rebekah Aversano marvels as she meets transplant recipient Richard Norris
Rebekah Aversano lost her brother Joshua three years ago after he was hit by a van while crossing a road. But she recently came face-to-face with him again – or at least, his visage – as she met the man who received Joshua’s face in a revolutionary transplant.
60 Minutes Australia was on hand when Aversano met Richard Norris, the transplant recipient. The segment airs this Sunday, and the promo below shows Aversano’s reaction when she sees Josh’s face on Norris for the first time.
“Do you mind if I touch it?” Aversano asks Norris, who obliges. “Wow, this is the face I grew up with,” she says.
Norris accidentally shot himself in the face in 1997, when he was 22. For 15 years, he lived with severe facial disfiguration until the landmark 36-hour transplant operation in March 2012 – when he received the face of Joshua Aversano, who had recently died.
Joshua’s parents, Randy and Gwen Aversano, told the Today show in 2013 that it was a tough decision, but the right one, to let Norris have Joshua’s face.
“I know I did tell Randy at the time, if I ever saw someone walking around who had Joshua’s face, the first thing I would do is walk up and give him a big hug,” Gwen said.
Randy added: “We just felt that this is something he would want to do, that out of this tragedy, something good could happen It was Richard’s only hope.”