Published: Fri, August 17, 2018
Medical | By Vernon Walton

21-year-old receives historic face transplant

21-year-old receives historic face transplant

Now she's sharing her story with the world, from almost dying to an extraordinary facial surgery that has given her a new start.

Although she attempted to commit suicide when she was 18 years old, Katie has no memory of this moment or of most of the year that followed as she was moved from a MS hospital to one in Tennessee, and another in Cleveland, Ohio.

The young woman survived but was critically injured, having lost her forehead, nose and sinuses, mouth except for the corners of her lips and much of the bones that make up the jaws and front of her face.

"We think her story is one of the most important stories that we will do this year". The world's first successful full face transplant was conducted at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain, in 2010.

"At 21 years old, Katie Stubblefield was the youngest person in the United States to receive a face transplant", read the page, which was set up by a family friend on Wednesday (Aug 14).


She told the magazine in its September issue cover story The Story Of a Face, that the major operation has given her a second chance at life.

Youngest woman to receive complete face transplant. That patient, Connie Culp, underwent a 22-hour transplant surgery at Cleveland Clinic and debuted her new face in 2009.

Detailing the procedure in an article on its website, the clinic said the surgery included: "Transplantation of the scalp, the forehead, upper and lower eyelids, eye sockets, nose, upper cheeks, upper jaw and half of lower jaw, upper teeth, lower teeth, partial facial nerves, facial muscles, and skin - with 100 per cent of her facial tissue effectively replaced".

Katie was discharged from Cleveland Clinic on August 1, 2017.

Now, Katie hopes to use her historic surgery to raise awareness about the lasting harms of suicide and the precious value of life.


However, Katie now remains unable to see and is learning Braille, according to the clinic. She also added that Schneider's son was not yet aware that his mother's face was being used, too, though he presumably will be soon.

"I am able to touch my face now, and it feels wonderful", she said.

Before her suicide attempt, as Stubblefield told writer Joanna Connors, she never saw herself as attractive. The U.S. Department of Defense is partially funding her care so doctors can apply lessons from her transplant to help wounded soldiers. Stubblefield also suffered a traumatic brain injury with damage to her frontal lobe, optic nerve, and pituitary gland. Katie, 22, one year and one month after her surgery. "So many people have helped me; now I want to help other people", she told the magazine.

"If by sharing her story, Katie could empower one person, debunk one myth about suicide, or most of all prevent one suicide she will have achieved her goal", said the page.

"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps".


Stubblefield will remain a lifelong subject in the study of a still experimental procedure.

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