21-year-old woman becomes youngest person to receive a face transplant in the US 3 months ago

21-year-old woman becomes youngest person to receive a face transplant in the US

Katie Stubblefield survived a gunshot wound to the head.

In March 2014, when Katie Stubblefield was 18, she tried to take her own life by shooting herself in the head. She miraculously survived, but was left with a severely disfigured face.

Now at aged 21, she has become the youngest person in the USA to receive pioneering face transplant surgery, giving her a new chance at life.

Three years after arriving at the Cleveland Clinic, a donor face became available. Stubblefield underwent thirteen surgeries, just in order to prepare for the procedure.

The operation itself took thirty one hours, and one hundred percent of her face was replaced. The incredible surgery involved transplantation of “the scalp, the forehead, upper and lower eyelids, eye sockets, nose, upper cheeks, upper jaw and half of lower jaw, upper teeth, lower teeth, partial facial nerves, facial muscles, and skin”, according to the Cleveland Clinic website.

Stubblefield’s journey is far from over though – she cannot see, and is learning braille, and will also have further surgeries on her tongue and jaw.

She hopes to eventually attend college, and become a counsellor, or a teacher.

She told the Cleveland Clinic Ethics Committee “I can’t go backward. I have to go forward.”

Stubblefield’s story is will be told in a Nation Geographic cover story.

The first ever face transplant took place in Spain in 2010.