21 year old girl turns youngest to receive face transplant

21 year old girl turns youngest to receive face transplant

At left, Katie Stubblefield at 17, eight months before attempting suicide.

At 21, she received a transplant at the Cleveland Clinic, making her the youngest person in the U.S.to receive a face transplant. She survived, but the injury resulted in the loss of her face.

It was over a course of multiple surgeries that Katie's face was finally stabalised and patched up by her doctors using her thigh muscles.

Katie also continues physical and occupational therapy, works with a speech therapist and takes Braille lessons.

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. "Life is precious, and life is attractive".

Yet overall, the young woman's story is one of rousing success in the field of cutting-edge medicine and of the wonderful human connections formed between physicians and patients.

It's no secret why National Geographic would choose to have Katie Stubblefield, 21, on the cover of their latest issue. "I am able to touch my face now, and it feels wonderful", Katie said in the video. "Then when you receive a transplant, you're so thankful". According to her father, Robb Stubblefield, she had gone through surgery for chronic gastrointestinal problems, dealt with betrayal in a personal relationship, and suffered because her mother was unjustly fired from her teaching job. A tissue graft from her abdomen had been performed by physicians in Memphis, Tennessee, where she was transferred after receiving emergency care in her home state of MS, but this attempt to cover the gaping wound on her face had failed. She rarely went out in public except to see doctors.

"I remember Dr. Gastman mentioned to me, he said basically that Katie was kind of the quintessential potential candidate for a face transplant". Katie now hopes to speak on suicide prevention and said, "So many people have helped me".

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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.

Photographer Maggie Steber, who spent two-and-a-half years capturing Katie and her family on camera, said: 'They are warriors.

The young girl's journey in search of a functional face started in March 2016 when she was put on a waiting list.

The U.S. has seen an increased rate of suicide in recent years. Almost 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016, and more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

As young students across the country fight gun violence by mobilizing their friends, families, and the nation, suicide is part of the conversation as guns are most commonly used to commit suicide.

"They're like eagles who are protecting a young bird".

"I can honestly tell you, for Katie, we do not believe for one moment that she wanted to die", Alesia said.

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