The Remarkable Saga of a Young Woman's Face Transplant

Katie Stubblefield survived a gunshot to face at age 18. Now she's the youngest person to receive a complete face transplant in U.S. history

Katie Stubblefield survived a gunshot to face at age 18. Now she's the youngest person to receive a complete face transplant in U.S. history

The youngest face transplant patient in the US, now 22, has emerged in a documentary four years after she attempted suicide by firing a high-powered rifle under her chin, USA Today reported on Tuesday.

"You take it for granted, the different components of our faces - the bone, the tissue, the muscle, everything - but when it's gone, you recognize the big need", her father, Robb Stubblefield, added.

At 18, she tried to kill her self with a gun and was left with serious injuries.

Katie and her parents have been living at Cleveland's Ronald McDonald House for the last four years, the longest residents in the facility's history.

And according to the magazine, she saw texts on her boyfriend's phone from another girl leading to a breakdown of their relationship. "When my parents helped explain everything to me, I was very excited to get a face again and to have function again".

The world's first face transplant was performed in France in 2005.

In 2017, three years after she shot herself, it was decided that she would have a face transplant - an experimental and extensive surgery, only the 40th known to the world.

It was after a wait for nearly a year of being on the transplant list, that Katie found her match. "She can try to save other young lives".

She goes through physical and occupational therapy, takes Braille lessons, sees a speech therapist, and will have to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of her life, just so her immune system won't attack her transplanted tissues. She said, "They weren't going to wait for me, and why should they?"

After the suicide attempt, Katie lost most of her vision, had a compromised ability to speak and was unable to take care of herself, the page said.

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But after 22 operations and her final face transplant she has chose to spread her message to help others suffering with suicidal thoughts.

Now, a National Geographic documentary, "Katie's Face", follows her step by step as she received face transplant in an extraordinary 31 hours of delicate surgery at the Cleveland Clinic past year when she was 21. The Mississippi native has one of the most incredible stories we've ever heard!

The surgery was performed at the Cleveland Clinic in OH in May and paid for by the US Department of Defence through the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

He said: "Her brain was basically exposed, and I mean, we're talking seizures and infections and all kinds of problems".

Katie's new face was donated by the family of Adrea Schneider, a 31-year-old mother-of-one who who died as the result of a drug overdose.

Stubblefield now hopes to go to college and study counseling, to teach teenagers the value of life. "With a new nose, lips, palate, eyelids and jaw, she now has the full opportunity to re-integrate into society and have a future just like any other young adult".

The U.S. has seen an increased rate of suicide in recent years.

"So many people have helped me".

Among young people, "I think we do a pretty decent job of educating them about sex and about drinking and driving", but education around suicide prevention is lacking, Alesia said.

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