A 21-YEAR-OLD woman who was left heavily disfigured in a failed suicide bid has become the youngest person in the USA to receive a face transplant. A year ago, the Cleveland Clinic performed a face transplant on the youngest patient to date, who was 21 at the time. Now she's sharing her story with the world, from almost dying to an extraordinary facial surgery that has given her a new start.
But 22 operations later, including her full-face transplant, Katie has chose to tell her tale to help others battling suicidal thoughts.
Hurt and angry, Stubblefield went over to her brother Robert's place, went to the bathroom and used his gun to shoot herself. She said she now wants to help people by speaking about suicide prevention. A year and two months later, after 31-year-old Adrea Schneider died of a drug overdose, Stubblefield got her donor.
The surgery was performed at the Cleveland Clinic by 11 surgeons in OH in May.
"You take it for granted, the different components of our faces - the bone, the tissue, the muscle, everything - but when it's gone, you recognize the big need", her father, Robb Stubblefield, added.
She said she was shocked: "I never thought of doing that ever before, and so on hearing about it, I just didn't know how to handle it". She rarely went out in public except to see doctors. "I felt terrible", she adds. In the time since receiving her full-face transplant - joining the ranks of fewer than 25 such recipients worldwide - at the Cleveland Clinic, Katie has undergone three major revision surgeries and has been hard at work with physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Katie's doctors chose to give her a full transplant instead of a partial one because, with the donor's face being wider and darker, transplanting 100 percent of it would look better. During the interview, Katie said that she never saw herself as attractive and after a barrage of hardships - chronic gastrointestinal issues, the loss of her mother's job and a painful breakup - she wanted to end her life.
"We think her story is one of the most important stories that we will do this year", Goldberg said of the magazine.
Katie Stubblefield at Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland, Ohio.
He said: "Her brain was basically exposed, and I mean, we're talking seizures and infections and all kinds of problems".
Stubblefield will remain a lifelong subject in the study of a still experimental procedure. She will have to take powerful anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.
After being told about the possible solution, Katie Stubblefield said she was just as amazed.
Katie now plans to attend college soon and pursue a career in counseling and motivational speaking. "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". They are warriors. They're like eagles who are protecting a young bird.