Stubblefield lost all facial functions after a suicide attempt.
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.
When her brother found her, he told the magazine: 'Her face was gone'. She also has to continue with physical and occupational therapy for the time being. The nerves connecting her brain to the newly introduced facial muscles are still growing, so she struggles to move many features.
Ms Stubblefield's has a very blurry memory of the day she walked into the suicide attempt in her elder brother's bathroom in Mississippi, back in 2014- or even the months that followed. She said, "They weren't going to wait for me, and why should they?"
Yet overall, the young woman's story is one of rousing success in the field of cutting-edge medicine and of the incredible human connections formed between physicians and patients. That patient, Connie Culp, underwent a 22-hour transplant surgery at Cleveland Clinic and debuted her new face in 2009.
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"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps", Katie told CNN in an interview published on Wednesday.
Stubblefield was the youngest person to have an entire face transplant surgery in America, making her story a special one.
The transplant, which was performed by 11 surgeons, aimed to restore Stubblefield's face and functions such as chewing, breathing and swallowing. And now Katie has a mission in her life. A tissue graft from her abdomen had been performed by physicians in Memphis, Tennessee, where she was transferred after receiving emergency care in her home state of MS, but this attempt to cover the gaping wound on her face had failed. "Forget the face transplant; we're talking about just being alive", one of her doctors, Brian Gastman, told National Geographic.
It was paid for by the US Department of Defence through the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. She hopes to go to college and eventually find a career in counselling and motivational speaking.
"My first wish for Katie is to be happy", Gastman said.
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"We think her story is one of the most important stories that we will do this year". "Then, she can do all that and become a spokeswoman for so many aspects - for how to be strong in the face of adversity and not to make a singular decision dictate who you are". "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".
Suicide awareness remains critical, said Katie's mother, Alesia.
The U.S. has seen an increased rate of suicide in recent years.
In 2016, guns were the most common method used in suicide deaths in the U.S., accounting for 22,963 - nearly half of all - suicide deaths, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
"So many people have helped me". They are warriors. They're like eagles who are protecting a young bird.
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