Tuesday, 19 February, 2019

She Shot Off Her Face. Now She Has a New One

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 She Shot Off Her Face. Now She Has a New One
Lora Ball | 15 August, 2018, 13:57

Stubblefield is now on the cover of the September issue of National Geographic, as the result of a multi-year photo project by a National Geographic photographer who covered her recovery.

More than a year removed from the historic surgery, Katie's emotional journey is being documented in National Geographic's September issue, entitled "The Story Of A Face".

The surgery was performed at the Cleveland Clinic by 11 surgeons in OH in May. Her eyes remained but they were badly damaged.

Stubblefield family photo-Katie Stubblefield, 17, 8 months before attempting suicide. Right: Photo by Martin Schoeller. At 21, she received a transplant at the Cleveland Clinic, making her the youngest person in the U.S.to receive a face transplant. "I am able to touch my face now, and it feels unbelievable", Katie said in the video.

"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. She soon fell in love with a fellow pupil at her new school who stood by her as she suffered severe health problems. She rarely went out in public except to see doctors.

When Katie was later told about the possible procedure, she said, she was equally stunned.

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

After a barrage of hardships - chronic gastrointestinal issues, the loss of her mother's job, a painful breakup - Stubblefield in March 2014 placed her brother's.308-caliber rifle beneath her chin and fired, according to the magazine. The world's fist successful face transplant was conducted at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Spain in 2010.

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The hospital declined to identify Stubblefield after the surgery previous year, but released a statement from the transplant recipient.

"I get a second chance at life now", Ms Stubblefield told National Geographic after becoming just the 40th person in the world to undergo the procedure. "Now I want to help other people", she said.

While Katie's medical care team hopes that her surgery can advance the field of face transplantation, there are many other hopes for her future.

"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.

But she intends to pick up where she left off, she told National Geographic, going to college and perhaps pursuing a career in counseling.

After the surgery was complete, Stubblefield had three major follow-up surgeries and extensive rehab treatment, and will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.

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