Sister Shares Thanksgiving With Men Who Received Her Late Brother's Face, Heart in Transplants
A woman has reunited with two very special guests for an early Thanksgiving: the men who received her brother's face and heart following his death.
Rebekah Brown, whose 21-year-old brother Joshua was killed in a car accident in 2012, welcomed John Jenkins and his wife Glenda, and Richard Norris and his girlfriend Melanie to share a Thanksgiving meal.
Norris received the first full face transplant in America. He underwent the transplant after a shotgun blast took off his face in 1997.
He had surgery after Brown, 30, and her parents made the heart-wrenching decision to donate her brother's face.
“I feel like there's nothing more powerful than to give the gift of life back,” Brown said.
Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez outlined the 36-hour operation at the University Of Maryland Medical Center. He led a massive team of 150 doctors and nurses transplanting bone skin and facial muscles.
“It felt like someone was squeezing my heart every time I’d look at Richard,” Brown told INSIDE EDITION. “His lips, his bone structure, his eyebrows, his hair, everything. It's like I’m looking at my brother's face.”
She invited her late brother's friend Kristine to the dinner.
“I feel like I know you already, I really do,” Kristine told Richard. “You look so much like him."
But Brown's gift of life did not stop with her brother's face.
She and her family also donated her brother's heart.
The recipient, 56-year-old John Jenkins, was hours away from dying of heart failure.
“We found out that he also had had a son who passed away when he was 21, the same age that my brother was when he passed away our hearts went out to him,” Brown said.