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Suicide Survivor Becomes Youngest Facial Transplant Recipient in the United States

Warning: This story is not for the faint of heart, but if Mary Shelley's works pique your interest, then continue reading.

Katie Stubblefield is the youngest person ever to have had a face transplant at the age of 21, and she is also the first to receive a full facial transplant. Five years ago, Stubblefield had just moved to Oxford, Mississippi. Shortly after word, her father lost his job and she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her.

After finding out about her boyfriend, she went to her brother’s house, and in a frantic panic proceeded to pick up her brother’s loaded .308 hunting rifle, lock herself in the bathroom, put the gun under her chin, and pull the trigger.

This went on while her brother and mother were outside discussing the best way to handle Stubblefield’s emotional state. Her brother, having heard the shot, quickly kicked down bathroom door and accompanied her to the hospital.

Stubblefield's "Shrek Face"

Stubblefield ended up surviving the gunshot after a long and intensive surgical procedure. She dubbed the face that she wore from years 18-21 her “Shrek” face due to the use of her thigh and Achilles tendon to reconstruct the missing triangle of her jaw, nose, and eyes.

After three years of being on an organ donor’s list, receiving minor surgeries to correct eyesight, speech, and chewing, she finally received word of a third donor (the first two didn’t work out) that could be a possible match.

Andrea Schneider, Stubblefield's facial donor.

Andrea Schneider, who was declared brain dead due to a cocaine overdose, was in the right age range, and met all the other requirements for a face transplant.

A team of doctors and nurses, led by Dr. Gastman, spent four hours removing Schneider’s face from her head, first by removing both eyes and then taking out the sinuses and eye socket bones before the final and most delicate part of the procedure could begin: the disconnection of the veins and arteries, which took up three of the four hours they spent removing the face.

Then began the long and arduous process of stitching and melding one face onto another, taking an astounding 31 hours.

The surgery was considered a success and Stubblefield has gone on to have more surgeries, such as having titanium mesh inserts to lift her eyes into their sockets and an implant in the roof of her mouth to allow her to speak better.

She still continues to take Braille lessons and go to speech therapy, but is now planning on holding tours to talk about suicide prevention and that whatever happens in life is temporary, focusing on teaching that suicide is never the answer.

*Images Courtesy of the Internet

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