U.S. woman who shot herself receives face transplant

Grant Boone
August 17, 2018

Speaking of Ms Stubblefield's family, photographer Maggie Steber, who documented their journey, said: "They are warriors". A year ago, the Cleveland Clinic performed a face transplant on the youngest patient to date, who was 21 at the time. She also received a forehead, upper and lower eyelids, eye sockets, a nose, a mouth, lips, cheeks, an upper jaw, part of a lower jaw, teeth and facial muscles.

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

Five weeks after the incident, Stubblefield was brought to Cleveland Clinic.

Ms Schneider had a hard life, born with drugs in her system to a drug addicted mother who died when she was only 13-years-old. 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. "I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps", she told CNN.

Katie Stubblefield, now 22, became the youngest face transplant recipient in USA history a year ago.

In her senior year, she had her appendix and her gallbladder taken out as she continued to battle with digestive issues.

She was transferred from a local hospital to the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, as doctors desperately tried to save her.

"We made a plate designed for the combination of Katie and her sister's jaw, and that's what we used to make Katie's jaw before we did the transplant", Gastman said. "I am able to touch my face now, and it feels unbelievable", Katie said in the video.

"I felt so guilty that I had put my family through such pain".

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Stubblefield doesn't remember the suicide attempt or any of the surgeries that followed to help mend her face.

That was a near-total face transplant.

A surgeon eventually suggested the family consider a face transplant - a procedure they'd never heard of.

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.

While Stubblefield's story may help others to think twice about trying to take their lives, her journey is also helping to shed light on yet another problem. "Now I want to help other people", she said.

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

Ms. Stubblefield plans to attend online college to pursue a career in counseling and motivational speaking to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention.

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. "Further, on the other hand, how much a singular rash decision made by so many young people today could negatively change your whole life".

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