This 21-year-old woman became the youngest person in the United States to receive a face transplant, three years after shooting herself in a failed suicide attempt.
She is Katie Stubblefield, who tried to take her own life in the bathroom at her older brother’s home in Mississippi on March 25, 2014 – nor much in the months after that.
She was transferred from her local hospital in Oxford to one in Memphis, Tennessee, then on to Cleveland, Ohio, in a desperate bid to save her life.
By the start of 2016 she was declared stable, and on May 4, 2017 she made history, undergoing 31 hours of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to receive a face transplant that will restore her face structure, and allow her to chew, swallow and breathe independently for the first time in years.
“I get a second chance at life now,” Katie, now 22, said in a National Geographic documentary, released today to coincide with the cover story ‘The Story of a Face’, revealing her struggle.
Katie is the 40th person in the world to receive a face transplant, and the third at the Cleveland Clinic, which is regarded as the pioneer in facial reconstruction in the US.
However, hers was slightly different to the ones that came before: not only is she the youngest ever, but it was the longest face transplant ever performed – pushing the surgical team to new limits.
Reasons of her suicide attempt were: family problems which her parents both got fired and her boyfriend left her for another girl.
With those reasons, she went to the bathroom and shot herself under the chin using his hunting rifle, a .308-caliber.
After that her brother found Katie on the floor, and ‘her face was gone’.