Rebekah Aversano lost her 21-year-old brother, Joshua, to a tragic car accident in 2012. In the aftermath, the Aversano family made the difficult decision to donate Joshua’s face for a transplant recipient. Now Rebekah has seen the face of her dead brother for the first time, after it was given to another man.
The transplant recipient was Richard Norris, a man who had spent 18 years of his life trying to rebuild after losing half of his face in a horrific shotgun accident. Despite multiple surgeries to try to correct his face, Norris was left horribly disfigured and suffering from extreme depression and suicidal thoughts.
That’s when doctors gave him the opportunity to get a new face—Joshua’s face—through facial transplant surgery.
Norris says that the operation in 2012 completely transformed his life, and now he has had the chance to say “thank you” to the Aversano’s in person.
In an emotional segment filmed for 60 Minutes Australia, Rebekah meets Norris for the first time—and is understandably overwhelmed.
“Do you mind if I touch it?” she asks. “Wow, this is the face I grew up with.”
Norris’ complicated transplant operation included receiving teeth, jaw, and a tongue from the donor.
Norris says he does keep in contact with the Aversano family, updating them about his life and health.
Although Joshua turned out to be a good tissue match for Norris, it has not been without struggles—including a three-week stay in the hospital after a sunburn caused his body to reject the transplant tissue.
After the successful surgery, Norris made headlines after he posed for GQ magazine.
Watch the emotional video of Rebekah and Norris meeting below, in the preview for the 60 Minutes segment.