Katie Stubblefield gets ‘second chance at life’: Woman becomes youngest in US to have face transplant after suicide attempt: A woman became the youngest person in the United States to receive a face transplant at 21 – after she tried to take her own life by shooting herself in the face.
Katie Stubblefield underwent 31 hours in surgery 2017 after a three year wait for a donor, following her attempted suicide in her brother’s bathroom when she was 18.
Now 22, she has shared her story alongside images of the historic full-face transplant procedure, performed at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, in a new National Geographic documentary and magazine cover story.
Ms Stubblefield remembers nothing of her suicide attempt in March 2014 or the months and surgeries that followed.
She is the 40th person in the world known to have received a new face.
Ms. Stubblefield was transferred from a local hospital to the Cleveland Clinic and, over the course of many procedures, a team of specialists stabilized Ms. Stubblefield and patched her face.
On May 4, 2017, she received a full-face transplant from Adrea Schneider, a 31-year-old woman who had recently passed away.
Ms Schneider was a registered organ donor whose heart, lungs, kidneys and liver were also donated and saved lives across the US.
Following her transplant, Ms Stubblefield’s facial structure was restored allowing her to close her eyes, wrinkle her nose and pucker her lips.
Fourteen months after the procedure, her doctors had completed three major revision surgeries and are still likely to slim her face, reduce scarring, and improve her eyelids. Over time her face will continue to regain function.
Ms Stubblefield told National Geographic: “I get a second chance at life now. This is the beginning of another chapter.”
Her surgery was paid for by the US Department of Defence through the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, in an effort to improve treatment for service members who are wounded in battle and come back with similar injuries.
“The Story of a Face” is featured on the cover of the September 2018 edition of National Geographic, guest-edited by Katie Piper and on shelves from September 5.