Woman Becomes Youngest Person Ever to Receive Face Transplant

Woman Becomes Youngest Person Ever to Have Face Transplant

Katie Stubblefield lost most of her face in a failed suicide attempt at the age of 18, and now at 22-years-old, she’s been given a second-chance at life.

The youngest person to ever receive a full-face transplant, the Mississippi native has shared her amazing story for National Geographic’s September issue.

In the cover story, which is titled The Story of a Face, Katie’s brother describes finding his sister after she shot herself in the head in an attempt to take her own life: “Her face was gone,” he told the publication, and doctors initially believed the teen wouldn’t survive her injuries.

Woman Becomes Youngest Person Ever to Have Face Transplant
Source: National Geographic

But 22 operations later, including her full-face transplant, Katie has decided to tell her tale to help others battling suicidal thoughts.

“Life is precious and life is beautiful,” she said.

The donor of Katie’s new face was 31-year-old Andrea Schneider. Her family donated her face after the mother-of-one tragically died of a drug overdose. As well as helping Katie, Andrea’s organs ended up saving the lives of seven other people.

Woman Becomes Youngest Person Ever to Have Face Transplant
Katie with her parents. Source: National Geographic/Maggie Steber

The intensive operation involved giving Katie a new forehead, nose, eye lids and sockets, mouth, lips, upper jaw, cheeks, and teeth, and lasted 31 hours. A total of 11 surgeons used virtual reality techniques and 3D printing to complete the transplant, making Katie the 40th person over all to receive one.

Dr Brian Gastman, one of the surgeons who operated on Katie, said: “Her whole story made our team come together much faster, and we sort of ran toward her to take care of her. We would do that for anybody, but many of us are parents ourselves and we saw what her own parents were going through.”

Woman Becomes Youngest Person Ever to Have Face Transplant
Source: National Geographic/Maggie Steber

While Maggie Steber, a photographer who has spent the last two years documenting Katie’s journey, praised her parents Robb and Alesia Stubblefield.

“They are warriors,” she said. “They’re like eagles who are protecting a young bird.

“And now Katie has a mission in her life. She can try to save other young lives.”

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Sophie Lloyd

Sophie is a cute feminist butterfly navigating the world one kitty meme at a time, or at least that’s how her best friend described her when she asked for help writing this bio. She likes cheese and one day hopes to be the proud owner of a corgi. For more of her random ramblings, follow her on Twitter/Instagram @_sophofbread.


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