DISTRESSING CONTENT A 21-year-old woman has become the youngest person in the United States to receive a face transplant after a suicide attempt three years earlier. "Life is precious, and life is lovely".
The then-18-year-old had just found out her boyfriend had been texting another girl, and also recently undergone surgery for gastrointestinal problems, according to National Geographic, which chronicles Ms Stubblefield's story in its latest edition. Now she's sharing her story with the world. Her brother remembers the first thought that crossed his mind when he saw her at the time, "her face is gone".
Although she survived, she had lost her forehead, nose and sinuses.
"I felt so guilty that I had put my family through such pain".
After that a surgeon eventually suggested the family to consider a face transplant, after which the process of finding a donor started.
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Katie and her parents have been living at Cleveland's Ronald McDonald House for the last four years, the longest residents in the facility's history.
Ms Stubblefield told National Geographic that she has no memory of her suicide attempt or the many surgeries to mend her face - her parents were the ones to tell her.
"Knowing this patient now has the opportunity to live a functional life because of her face transplant is the greatest reward", Dr. Gastman, said in a statement.
She is the 40th person in the world to be given a face transplant in an operation that lasted 31 hours. Ms Schneider's grandmother, Sandra Bennington, made the decision to donate Andrea's face.
It was paid for by the US Department of Defence through the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
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Later in 2016, she was declared stable, and a year later she received the surgery that redefined her bone structure, including her nose, nasal passage, and her jaw and regained her ability to chew, swallow, or breathe on her own. But this final stop was where she would receive her full face transplant! The transplant, performed previous year, aims to restore Katie's face structure and functions - such as chewing, breathing and swallowing - which were lost in a severe gunshot injury, the haunting outcome of a suicide attempt as a teenager. "I felt disgusting", she adds.
Dr Brian Gastman, who was part of the surgical team, explained: 'Her whole story made our team come together much faster, and we sort of ran toward her to take care of her.
She said she hopes her story will raise awareness to the potential consequences of suicide, helping other young men and women like her to value life and avoid doing what she did to herself. Almost 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016, and more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.
"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps", Katie said of her rehab progress, adding that her family has been a big help in her recovery and that her faith has kept her strong.
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