21-year-old woman becomes youngest in United States to receive face transplant

21-year-old woman becomes youngest in United States to receive face transplant

21-year-old woman becomes youngest in United States to receive face transplant

At left, Katie Stubblefield at 17, eight months before attempting suicide. She survived, but the injury resulted in the loss of her face. However, it would be another two and a half years before Stubblefield finally underwent the surgery.

It was after a wait for nearly a year of being on the transplant list, that Katie found her match. The nerves connecting her brain to the newly introduced facial muscles are still growing, so she struggles to move many features.

Katie Stubblefield's face was gravely injured when she shot herself in a suicide attempt when she was 18 in 2014.

Ms Schneider had a hard life, born with drugs in her system to a drug addicted mother who died when she was only 13-years-old.

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

She is also featured in National Geographic's full-length documentary Katie's Face. "I felt frightful", Katie said in the interview.

Ms Stubblefield lost parts of her forehead, her nose and sinuses, most of her mouth, and bones that make up her jaw and structures of her face. The U.S. Department of Defense is partially funding her care so doctors can apply lessons from her transplant to help wounded soldiers. She soon fell in love with a fellow pupil at her new school who stood by her as she suffered severe health problems.

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.

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"I felt so guilty that I had put my family through such pain".

"I had no clue what a face transplant was", Stubblefield told CNN. But this final stop was where she would receive her full face transplant!

Stubblefield finally received a potential face donor from Adrea Schneider, a 31-year-old single mother who died of a drug overdose. And now Katie has a mission in her life.

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

Five weeks after the incident, Stubblefield was brought to Cleveland Clinic.

When her brother found her, he told the magazine: 'Her face was gone'.

One year later, Stubblefield is hoping to attend college and is considering a career in counseling.

"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps", Katie said about her journey. "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". Stubblefield is the 40th known person in the world known to receive a new face, according to National Geographic.

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