VIRGINIA — Richard Norris almost lost his life at the age of 22 when he accidentally shot himself in the face with a shotgun.
New York Daily News reports that Norris lost his teeth, nose and part of his tongue, and spent the next 15 years hiding from the world.
Until 2012. That year, Rebekah Aversano’s brother, Josh, 21, who had plans to become a Marine, died after being hit while crossing the street in Maryland.
Josh’s family made their tragedy a blessing for Norris.
They donated his face to Norris. They told Today in 2013 that they knew the surgery might not be a success, but that they were Norris’ only hope.
“We felt like this is something (Josh) would want to do,” Josh’s father, Randy Aversano, told Today.
**Watch that Today show interview at the bottom of this page**
Norris underwent a 36-hour operation that involved a 50 percent chance of survival.
“It was a difficult decision at the beginning,” Josh’s mother, Gwen, told Today. “I did tell Randy at the time if I ever saw someone walking around that had Joshua’s face, I would walk up and give them a big hug.”
It’s not clear if the couple has met Norris.
But “60 Minutes Australia” filmed an emotional meeting between Norris and Rebekah, when she saw her brother’s face on Norris’ body for the very first time. It took place at Norris’ home in Virginia, according to New York Daily News.
The segment will air on Sunday. But a promo has been released that shows some of Rebekah’s reaction when she first sees Norris.
**Watch that promo at the top of this page**
“This is the face that I grew up with,” she said as she touched and looked at his face.