21-year-old receives historic face transplant

Woman, 21, Gets Full Face Transplant After Shooting Face Off In Suicide Attempt — Pics

"The face lies on a surgical tray, eyes empty and unseeing, mouth agape, as if exclaiming, "Oh!'" It's a line from Joanna Connors" National Geographic September cover story, which follows 21-year-old Katie Stubblefield as she becomes the youngest person on the planet to receive a face transplant.

At an all-time low, a rash decision to kill herself changed Ms Stubblefield's life.

Before her full transplant, she went through 22 different surgeries to try and reconstruct her face.

"I felt so guilty that I had put my family through such pain". She has said that she doesn't remember much of that year - including being hospitalized in Oxford, Mississippi; being flown to another hospital in Memphis, Tennessee; and then being transferred to Cleveland Clinic in OH, where she would undergo her face transplantation three years later. "And to my donor and her family - words can not express the appreciation I have for this incredible gift". The world's fist successful face transplant was conducted at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Spain in 2010.

It has now been more than a year since 22-year-old Katie Stubblefield underwent a 31-hour operation to give her a new face.

The GoFundMe page aims to raise US$50,000 to help pay for Katie and her family's needs for the coming year.

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"So many people have helped me; now I want to help other people", she said.

And according to the magazine, she saw texts on her boyfriend's phone from another girl leading to a breakdown of their relationship.

"When my parents helped explain everything to me, I was very excited to get a face again and to have function again", she said.

Ms Stubblefield now takes medication to reduce the risk of organ rejection, and will do so for the rest of her life.

Her donor - Adrea Schneider - was a 31-year-old woman who died of a drug overdose.

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

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The surgery was performed at the Cleveland Clinic by 11 surgeons in OH in May. Before the procedure, Katie underwent extensive psychological evaluation as a face transplant candidate and suicide survivor.

After the suicide attempt, Katie lost most of her vision, had a compromised ability to speak and was unable to take care of herself, the page said.

"My first wish for Katie is to be happy", Gastman said.

Her transplant took place on May 4, 2017, more than three years after her injury.

Katie now hopes to attend college and have a family and career one day, the page added. Stubblefield is the 40th known person in the world known to receive a new face, according to National Geographic. "With a new nose, lips, palate, eyelids and jaw, she now has the full opportunity to re-integrate into society and have a future just like any other young adult".

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