Thursday, 20 June, 2019

21-year-old receives historic face transplant

Katie Stubblefield Woman, 21, Gets Full Face Transplant After Shooting Face Off In Suicide Attempt — Pics
Adrian Cunningham | 15 August, 2018, 13:56

Katie Stubblefield (pictured left in 2013 and right in 2018) has become the youngest person in the United States to receive a face transplant after the country's first face transplant on Connie Culp in 2008.

Adrea Schneider, was a 31-year-old woman and organ donor who died three days earlier after failing to recover from a drug overdose.

Stubblefield's older brother, Robert, was the one who found her - covered in blood.

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

One of the surgeons behind the transplant, Dr Brian Gastman, said: "Her whole story made our team come together much faster, and we sort of ran toward her to take care of her".

She was taken to hospital and endured two years worth of operations, undergoing several procedures to fix her bone structure, including her nose, nasal passage and her jaw before receiving her new face from donor Adrea Schneider, 31, who died after a drug overdose.

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

Five weeks after Katie almost died from the gunshot wound, she arrived at the Cleveland Clinic in dire need of reconstructive surgery.

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.

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He noted that when he first saw Katie's injury, he anxious that she might not live. Her eyes remained but they were badly damaged, news reports said.

Full and partial face transplants, still considered experimental surgeries, involve replacing all or parts of a person's face with donated tissue from a deceased donor.

"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps", Katie said about her journey.

It was paid for by the US Department of Defence through the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Connors tracks the surgery in detail, as well as the months that followed. "Her brain was basically exposed, and I mean, we're talking seizures and infections and all kinds of problems". She was raised by her grandmother, Sandra Bennington, since she was four-years-old and adopted by her at the age of 11.

Stubblefield plans on attending online college soon to pursue a career in counseling and motivational speaking, specifically to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. "She can try to save other young lives".

He said Katie "had the ultimate second chance". 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.

During the surgery, Stubblefield received a new nose, lips, palate, eyelids, and jaw, as well as a new facial cover.

In 2016, guns were the most common method used in suicide deaths in the USA, accounting for 22,963 - nearly half of all - suicide deaths, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.