Rebekah Brown will feel close to her brother, Joshua Aversano, this Thanksgiving season for the first time since 2012, when he was struck and killed by a minivan while crossing the street.
This year, the two men who were given her brother’s heart and his face enjoyed an early Thanksgiving meal with Brown. The men got the chance to offer their thanks for the life-sustaining gifts they received; Brown got the chance to offer her thanks for being able to feel and see her brother’s presence one more time.
Fox News reported:
Brown, 30, made a 27-pound turkey for the two men, Richard Norris, who received Joshua’s face transplant, and John Jenkins, who received the then-21-year-old’s heart transplant. Norris’ girlfriend, Melanie, and Jenkins’ wife, Glenda, also attended the feast.
Inside Edition documented the families’ gathering and previously covered Brown meeting Norris, 39, for the first time after he received her brother’s face in a transplant. Norris was 22 when he accidentally shot himself in the face in 1997. Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez conducted the face transplant surgery— at the time, the first of its kind— during a 36-hour operation involving 150 doctors and nurses at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“It felt like someone was squeezing my heart every time I’d look at Richard,” Brown told Inside Edition at the time. “His lips, his bone structure, his eyebrows, his hair, everything. It’s like I’m looking at my brother’s face.”
Jenkins, 50, had been hours away from dying of heart failure when he received Aversano’s heart, Fox 29 reported.
“I feel like there’s nothing more powerful than to give the gift of life back,” Brown said.
Watch the video, via Inside Edition.
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