Katie Stubblefield’s incredible story: she became the youngest person to have a face transplant

Katie Stubblefield had her entire life ahead of her, but everything changed when her boyfriend dumped her at the age of 18. Tragically, the adolescent shot herself, but miraculously, she survived.

Katie, who is 21 years old, is the youngest face transplant recipient in the United States and just the 40th individual to have the surgery. It took more than 30 hours, but the doctors did an amazing job, and the young woman now has a second chance at life.

Katie’s post-surgery appearance is nothing short of amazing.

It’s easy to gripe about trivialities in our daily life. Perhaps your morning coffee was a little chilly, the bus was late, or the television show you saw last night wasn’t as fantastic as you had thought.


It’s okay to be upset about things now; after all, we all live different lifestyles. At the same time, it’s critical that we take a moment every now and then to appreciate what we have, even if we haven’t yet realised our dream scenario.

I’ve determined to think of Katie Stubblefield anytime I don’t have the energy to perform a minor activity, such as doing the dishes or putting out the garbage, or whenever I feel like grumbling about the little things in life.

Katie attempted suicide at the age of 18 by shooting herself in the face. She miraculously survived, but she had lost her face and had to have a face transplant.

This is her inspirational tale, which we hope you would share with others!

Katie Stubblefield seemed to have it all. Her family had relocated from Lakeland, Florida, where she had grown up, to Owensboro, Kentucky, while she was in her sophomore year of high school. Only a year later, the family relocated once more, this time to Oxford, Mississippi, where her dad began teaching at a small Christian school.

Katie was “fearless” and “a lot of fun,” according to her older sister Olivia. She had a terrific sense of humour and was always willing to help others. However, as Katie grew older, Olivia saw a shift.

“She wanted to be the best in all of these sports that she’d never even tried before,” Olivia explained. “She wanted to be the best academically, so she studied for hours, all the time.”


Katie attended the same school where her parents taught, and it didn’t take long for the young girl to find love in a classmate. The two quickly began talking about marriage; according to Katie’s sister Olivia, their relationship was very serious.

Katie’s life would change forever during her final year. She had already been through chronic stomach problems and surgery at the time. Furthermore, she had her appendix removed a year before, which caused complications necessitating the loss of her gallbladder.

Furthermore, the situation within the family was far from perfect. Katie’s parents had both lost their jobs at the school.

Katie turned 18 on March 25, 2014, she discovered texts from another girl on her boyfriend’s phone. When she confronted him about it, he ended up breaking up with her.

Katie had lost parts of her brow, nose, sinuses, and most of her mouth, with the exception of the corners of her lips. The bones that formed her jaw and the front of her face were also missing. Her eyes remained, but severely injured.

Doctors didn’t know if Katie would survive, but they started repairing her deformed face anyhow. Katie’s family was told by medical authorities on the first night of her hospital stay that her best chance of living a normal life was a face transplant.


“He said, ‘This is the worst wound I’ve ever seen, and I think the only thing that will give her any kind of life again will be a face transplant,’” according to the article. Stubblefield explained. “That was the first time we’d ever done it.”

Katie has no recollection of the day she lost her face. In fact, she claims she has no recollection of that entire year. She, like her family members, was taken aback by the thought that a face transplant was conceivable.

Katie admitted, “I had no idea what a face transplant was.” “I was very excited to get a face and function again after my parents helped explain everything to me.”

Katie was taken aback when her parents had to tell her what had transpired.

“I had never considered doing that before, and so when I heard about it, I just didn’t know how to handle it,” she explained. “I felt terrible that I had put my family through this.”

Katie was initially treated in Oxford, Mississippi, before being transferred to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Her recuperation would take a long period, and she was placed on a donor waiting list.

A donor was discovered after a year. Adrea Schneider died at the age of 31, and her family decided to donate her body. Katie was moved to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where she will receive her face transplant.


Katie’s treatment, according to the clinic, included transplanting her scalp, forehead, upper and lower eyelids, eye sockets, nose, upper cheeks, upper jaw and half of her lower jaw, higher teeth, lower teeth, partial facial nerves, muscles, and skin – basically replacing her complete face tissue.

On May 4, 2017, 11 surgeons and specialists, assisted by virtual reality, began the major surgery. It took 31 hours to complete, but it was a big success.

“It’s been a difficult road to this point of recovery, but I’m thankful there’s been a road – and Cleveland Clinic has been the vehicle to help drive me along,” Katie remarked shortly after the operation.

“I will be eternally grateful for the care this hospital has provided and continues to provide on my journey of recovery and healing.” To say that my surgeons, physicians, nurses, and carers are world-class is an understatement. And to my donor and her family, I have no words to convey how grateful I am for this great gift. “With grateful hearts, I say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has helped make this possible for me.”

Katie still had a long road ahead of her following the surgery. Her parents became her nursing staff, available 24 hours a day, and she had a two-and-a-half-page list of daily meds.

She got physical therapy twice a week, personal training twice a week, and occupational therapy once a week. Katie also received braille lessons twice or three times a week, as well as speech therapy four times a week.

Katie struggled the most with the speaking aspect. She had the donor’s mouth after the transplant, and only her upper lounge and soft upper palate remained.

Cleveland Clinic

Her parents assisted her by interpreting what she was saying, although even they had difficulty hearing her at times. Because of her palate issues, she now had a powerful, nasally voice. Katie reported her voice as sounding “like a frog.”

Despite the fact that she had many mountains to climb, Katie recognised she was lucky to be alive.

Katie’s physicians have completed three major revision procedures fourteen months following the face transplant. These were also meant to slim her face, decrease scarring, and improve the appearance of her eyelids.

“I’m able to touch my face now, and it feels amazing,” Katie told CNN.

“You take the different components of our faces for granted – the bone, the tissue, the muscle, everything – but when it’s gone, you realise the great need.” Then, when you get a transplant, you’re overjoyed.”

Katie intends to pursue a profession in counselling and motivational speaking by attending college online. Very apt, given that she has truly turned her life around and is now an inspiration to many people all around the world.

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