Katie Stubblefield is the youngest person to ever receive a face transplant! Get all the details on her groundbreaking surgery here.
It’s no secret why National Geographic would choose to have Katie Stubblefield, 21, on the cover of their latest issue. The Mississippi native has one of the most incredible stories we’ve ever heard! Although she attempted to commit suicide when she was 18 years old, Katie has no memory of this moment or of most of the year that followed as she was moved from a Mississippi hospital to one in Tennessee, and another in Cleveland, Ohio. But this final stop was where she would receive her full face transplant! While her doctors first focused on reconstruction to fix the damage she had done to her face, they were able to replace her face with one from a donor — although the entire process spanned three years. CLICK HERE FOR PICS OF KATIE’S TRANSFORMATION.
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. The only problem? This posed a greater risk of Katie’s body rejecting the new face. But with permission from the woman’s mother, doctors moved forward anyway, removing bones from the donor’s face to replace the ones that Katie had lost in her suicide attempt. She also received a forehead, upper and lower eyelids, eye sockets, a nose, a mouth, lips, cheeks, an upper jaw, part of a lower jaw, teeth and facial muscles. We’re so happy to report that the transplant was successful — what a miracle!
Before all of this could be done, Katie had a long journey of hospital visits. Part of this involved moving her eyes more into alignment by breaking bones and using a distraction device in preparation for her transplant. But even though she made more than a dozen visits before this, her parents tried to make sure her life was as normal as possible when she was out. They took Katie to eat at restaurants despite the looks and comments she’d receive, spent time with her outside and celebrated her birthday.
— CNN International (@cnni) August 14, 2018
We can’t imagine how hard this has been for Katie and the rest of her family. And it can’t have been easy for Sandra Bennington either. She was the woman who gave permission for her granddaughter, Adrea Schneider’s, face to be used in the transplant after she died from an overdose. Eight months after Katie’s 31-hour surgery, the two of them were able to meet. Sandra said Katie looked beautiful!
In the future, Katie is hoping to be a motivational speaker and spread suicide prevention awareness. It’s so amazing that she’s got her heart set on an inspiring career like this — and that her doctors have been able to make that possible!