Richard Lee Norris

Fa notizia in Polonia, dove viene salvato un uomo sfigurato da una macchina tagliapietre. Poi si fanno sempre più frequenti i casi di persone la cui vita viene completamente rivoluzionata: sono i trapianti facciali a rendere possibile ciò, l’innovazione che sta stravolgendo la chirurgia plastica.

Bisogna risalire in realtà più indietro nel tempo, al 2005, quando in Francia il volto di una donna, dilaniato da un cane, viene parzialmente ricostruito. Questo e altri casi di parziale chirurgia ricostruttiva che sono seguiti, con tecniche ogni volta sempre più avanzate, hanno culminato con il caso di Grzegorz, il trentenne polacco che il 15 maggio 2013 è stato sottoposto al primo trapianto facciale urgente del mondo.

L’intervento chirurgico, eseguito dai medici del centro oncologico di Gliwice, è stato attuato in tempi record: dopo un primo tentativo che aveva permesso di salvare la vista e la parte inferiore del viso, il secondo ingresso nella camera operatoria è avvenuto a distanza di quattro settimane dall’incidente, al contrario di quello che avviene di solito.

Il volto di Grzegorz, primo  trapianto facciale in Polonia.
Il volto di Grzegorz, primo trapianto facciale in Polonia.

In 27 ore sono riusciti a ricostruire il volto del paziente – che ora è sottoposto ad una cura di farmaci anti rigetto, come da prassi – con un risultato molto soddisfacente, per quello che è il trapianto del volto più veloce mai fatto, come ricordato dal dottor Adam Maciejewski:

“L’intervento permetterà al paziente di tornare alla vita normale. Sarà in grado di respirare, mangiare, vedere.”

Per recuperare la motricità del viso ci sono voluti otto mesi.
L’operazione è stata successivamente riconosciuta all’ASRM come il miglior esempio di chirurgia ricostruttiva del 2013.

Un altro caso interessante è quello di Richard Lee Norris, noto per quello che è probabilmente il trapianto facciale più complicato che sia mai stato eseguito. Questo ragazzo americano, è stato raggiunto al volto da un colpo di pistola che gli ha devastato il viso, passando attraverso cute. ossa, muscoli e denti. Dopo numerosi interventi di chirurgia plastica oggi mostra una nuova faccia.

All’epoca dell’incidente (1997) Richard Lee Norris aveva 23 anni e non esistevano ancora i trapianti facciali. Per più di dieci anni ha vissuto chiuso in casa vergognandosi di quello che era diventato ed uscendo solo la notte, con il volto coperto – nonostante gli interventi di ricostruzione parziale del viso.

E’ stata la notizia di un donatore anonimo – i cui organi hanno salvato altri 5 pazienti – a fargli tornare la speranza, assieme all’equipe dei medici del reparto di chirurgia plastica, ricostruttiva e maxillo-facciale della Scuola di medicina dell’Università del Maryland.

Il paziente è stato così sottoposto ad un intervento di 36 ore, durante il quale hanno lavorato 150 persone, fra medici, infermieri e personale sanitario e in cui gli sono stati sostituiti mascella, denti, lingua, muscoli e nervi. Sono state inoltre utilizzate tecniche d’avanguardia e medicine sperimentali, grazie anche alle sovvenzioni date nei progetti volti a ridare un volto ai veterani che subiscono gravi lesioni negli scenari di guerra dove gli USA sono impegnati.

Dopo aver superato con successo la fase post operatoria, Richard Lee Norris ha annunciato di essere fiero del suo nuovo volto e di voler essere studiato per il resto della sua vita.

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