Youngest American Woman To Receive Full Face Transplant, One Year Post-Op

Katie Stubblefield

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

Stubblefield is now on the cover of the September issue of National Geographic, as the result of a multi-year photo project by a National Geographic photographer who covered her recovery.

Here's what you need to know.

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

Now 22, she has shared her story and incredible photos of her transplant journey with National Geographic. The transplant, performed previous year, aims to restore Katie's face structure and functions - such as chewing, breathing and swallowing - which were lost in a severe gunshot injury, the haunting outcome of a suicide attempt as a teenager. The gunshot destroyed the teen's face and required extensive surgery to save her life.

"I had no clue what a face transplant was", Stubblefield told CNN.

"When my parents helped explain everything to me, I was very excited to get a face again and to have function again", she said. An in-depth look at the journey leading up to Katie's face transplant, as well as her long road to recovery, is featured in National Geographic's September issue and in a new documentary. That's quite a privileged position.

In 2017, it was decided that Stubblefield would undergo a face transplant. Though she tried to live a normal life, people would stare and whisper to each other about her face.

Fourteen months later, a donor was found: Adrea Schneider, a 31-year-old woman who died of a drug overdose, National Geographic reported.

He noted that when he first saw Katie's injury, he anxious that she might not live.

"Her face is gone", he recalled thinking at the time.

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.

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

Before Stubblefield's transplant, surgeons used 3D printing to help reconstruct about 90 percent of her lower jaw, using her older sister, Olivia McCay as a model template, said Dr. Brian Gastman a plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic who led the surgery.

Stubblefield has said that she wants to go to school now to become a counselor, and to work with other suicide survivors in the future.

"Steber has said of Stubblefield's parents, "[Katie's parents] were heartbroken and shocked at what happened, but they have embraced it.

Among young people, "I think we do a pretty decent job of educating them about sex and about drinking and driving", but education around suicide prevention is lacking, Alesia said.

Five weeks after Katie almost died from the gunshot wound, she arrived at the Cleveland Clinic in dire need of reconstructive surgery. "She can try to save other young lives".

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