A man who’s lived as a self-described “hermit” since a horrific 1997 accident now has a new lease on life. Back then, an accident with a gun took off Richard Norris’ entire jaw, his lips and his nose, leaving his face severely disfigured (above). He’s rarely gone out in public since then and when he did, he’d wear a surgical mask to hide his face so people wouldn’t stare. Now, he’s gotten his life back, after a huge surgery in March replacing both jaws, teeth, tongue and skin, along with nerve and muscle tissue from his scalp to his neck. It was a procedure that took 36 hours to complete, done by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Since March, doctors said that the right side of his face is at about 80 percent normal motor function and his left is at about 40. He has also regained the ability to smell and taste. “Richard is exceeding my expectations this soon after his surgery, and he deserves great deal of credit for the countless hours spent practicing his speech and strengthening his new facial muscles,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “He’s one of the most courageous and committed individuals I know.” It’s amazing what science is capable of these days! Check out the before and after in the gallery, and Richard’s statements below.