21-year-old woman becomes youngest in USA to receive face transplant

Ruben Ruiz
August 15, 2018

"This surgery can give her back the self-esteem and confidence she lost".

Stubblefield's ordeal is also the cover story of National Geographic's September issue with the feature "Story of a Face". The Mississippi native has one of the most incredible stories we've ever heard! Stubblefield lost her face by her own hand: As an 18-year-old high school senior dealing with medical issues, her mother's job loss, and a breakup, she impulsively shot herself in the face with a.308-caliber hunting rifle in 2014. In 2008, American woman Connie Culp became the first United States recipient of a face transplant at the same clinic.

According to National Geographic, Katie had to undergo nearly three years of extensive surgeries, emotional agony and then the struggle to embrace her new face.

The world's first face transplant was performed in France in 2005. The only problem? This posed a greater risk of Katie's body rejecting the new face. The transplant, performed a year ago, aims to restore Katie's face structure and functions - such as chewing, breathing and swallowing - which were lost in a severe gunshot injury, the haunting outcome of a suicide attempt as a teenager.

Katie's procedure involved transplanting the scalp, forehead, upper and lower eyelids, eye sockets, nose, upper cheeks, upper jaw and half of lower jaw, upper teeth, lower teeth, partial facial nerves, muscles and skin - effectively replacing her full facial tissue, according to Cleveland Clinic.

The operation was the Cleveland Clinic's third face transplant and the 40 in the world.

Before all of this could be done, Katie had a long journey of hospital visits.

Dr Brian Gastman, who was part of the surgical team, explained: 'Her whole story made our team come together much faster, and we sort of ran toward her to take care of her.

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"I had never thought of doing that before", Ms Stubblefield said of her attempt to kill herself.

"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps", Katie told CNN in an interview published on Wednesday.

"We think her story is one of the most important stories that we will do this year", Goldberg said of the magazine.

"She's also undergone additional surgeries to improve function in her tongue and jaw", it added. "And to my donor and her family - words can not express the appreciation I have for this incredible gift".

"I had no clue what a face transplant was", Katie said.

"In addition to finding a place to rent and cover basic essentials, their family will need additional funds to continue Katie's much needed extra therapies and training, not covered by insurance or the Department of Defense", read the page.

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

She hopes to go to college and eventually find a career in counselling and motivational speaking. Almost 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016, and more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

Other reports by GizPress

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