Youngest American Woman To Receive Full Face Transplant, One Year Post-Op

In 2014, Stubblefield reportedly tried to commit suicide at 18 years old when she saw her boyfriend's texts with another girl.

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.

There are still months of slow healing and painful therapy ahead. In two years, she found herself on a waiting list for a face transplant, CNN reported, and in 2017 a match was found: Stubblefield would receive the face of Adrea Schneider, a 31-year-old organ donor.

Dr Brian Gastman at Cleveland Clinic who attended to her after she was transferred there some time after the incident told National Geographic that Ms Stubblefield's injury was one of the worst face traumas he had ever seen.

"Knowing this patient now has the opportunity to live a functional life because of her face transplant is the greatest reward", Dr. Gastman, said in a statement.

"I am able to touch my face now, and it feels unbelievable", Ms Stubblefield told the NY Post.

Katie and her parents have been living at Cleveland's Ronald McDonald House for the last four years, the longest residents in the facility's history.

As part of the transplant Katie received a new forehead, eyelids, eye sockets, nose, mouth and lips, cheeks, upper jaw and teeth. Her life was saved in Memphis and she was transferred to the Cleveland Clinic in OH, where 15 specialists "patched her face" (Connors explains how).

Katie's doctors chose to give her a full transplant instead of a partial one because, with the donor's face being wider and darker, transplanting 100 percent of it would look better.

The surgery, which took 31 hours, was a success. It involved 11 surgeons, several other specialists and virtual reality.

Thank you for signing up for the Top 3 Newsletter. Like all other face transplant recipients, Stubblefield will be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life.

"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps", she added about the recovery process. Stubblefield is the 40th known person in the world known to receive a new face, according to National Geographic.

"I never thought of doing that ever before, and so on hearing about it, I just didn't know how to handle it", she told National Geographic. She hopes to go to college and eventually find a career in counselling and motivational speaking. "Then, she can do all that and become a spokeswoman for so many aspects - for how to be strong in the face of adversity and not to make a singular decision dictate who you are".

Among young people, "I think we do a pretty decent job of educating them about sex and about drinking and driving", but education around suicide prevention is lacking, Alesia said. "She can try to save other young lives".

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