Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Girl gets a remarkable face transplant after shooting herself in face

Face transplant Adrea Schneider whose face was donated to Miss Stubblefield Credit National Geographic
Samantha Long | 17 August, 2018, 19:25

When Katie Stubblefield was 18, handsome and broken-hearted after splitting up with her boyfriend, she took her brother's hunting rifle and shot herself in the head.

Katie says she can not remember much about the period before her suicide attempt, but family say she had been struggling emotionally with moving around, a failed relationship and chronic gastrointestinal health problems throughout her teens.

"'The Story of a Face' is about hope and resilience, identity, the power of a family's love and devotion to their daughter, and the medical miracle that gives Katie Stubblefield a second chance at life", said Susan Goldberg, Editorial Director of National Geographic Partners and Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine. She was operated upon in May 2017, making her the youngest one in the U.S. to undergo the face transplant. She also had brain injuries and significant damage to her eyes.

Throughout the "many surgeries" Katie had, Gastman and his team "removed and repaired shattered bones", "made a rudimentary nose and upper lip from her thigh tissue rolled up inside out", "used a piece of her Achilles tendon" to help compose a chin and lower lip, they "fashioned a new lower jawbone from titanium and a piece of her fibula with flesh still attached, and every day they adjusted a distraction device that was attacked to her skull with the intent of moving her eyes closer together".

He said: "Her brain was basically exposed, and I mean, we're talking seizures and infections and all kinds of problems".

The surgery, which took 31 hours, was a success.

'Storm Ernesto' looks set to hit Ireland this weekend
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Katie was on the transplant list for over a year before a donor was found. Adrea Schneider, a 31-year-old woman who had recently passed away, was a match.

Her life was saved in Memphis and she was transferred to the Cleveland Clinic in OH, where 15 specialists "patched her face" (Connors explains how). Though she survived the gunshot, the wound disfigured a large portion of her face, reported The Independent.

Stubblefield, who has had three follow-up surgeries, will remain on immunosuppressive drugs since transplant rejection remains a risk.

With her new face, Ms Stubblefield now has a future to look forward to. She also has to continue with physical and occupational therapy for the time being.

"I'm starting over in a lot of ways", Stubblefield says through her parents, Robb and Alesia.

She hopes to eventually attend college, and become a counsellor, or a teacher. "So many people have helped me, now I want to help other people", she told National Geographic.

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