Richard Norris, 39, was left severely disfigured after he accidentally shot off half of his face in 1997.
Before the transplant, Norris went through 30 painful operations to try and repair the damage and restore his features. The painful procedures resulted in very little improvement and caused Norris to sink into depression.
When Rebekah Aversano’s brother Joshua was run over by a minivan and killed in 2012, his family decided to donate his face to Norris.
In one of the most complex face transplants in medical history, University of Maryland medical centre doctors took 36 hours in March 2012 to transplant teeth, a jaw, tongue muscles and nerves.
Though the surgery was successful, Norris will have to take a number of immune system suppressing drugs for the rest of his life as his body will continually treat the new face as a foreign object and try to reject it.
Norris thanked Rebekah in an emotional meeting at his Virginia home.
Reaching out to his face, she asked: “Do you mind if I touch it?” After doing so she stepped back in amazement: “Wow, this is the face I grew up with.” Joshua’s mother said: “We can definitely see our son in him.”