21-year-old receives historic face transplant

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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.

A young woman who attempted suicide has been given a new lease on life, one year after becoming the youngest person to undergo a face transplant in the U.S. "Forget the face transplant; we're talking about just being alive", one of her doctors, Brian Gastman, told National Geographic. But with permission from the woman's mother, doctors moved forward anyway, removing bones from the donor's face to replace the ones that Katie had lost in her suicide attempt.

As part of the transplant Katie received a new forehead, eyelids, eye sockets, nose, mouth and lips, cheeks, upper jaw and teeth.

'Life is precious and life is lovely, ' she said. In the time since receiving her full-face transplant - joining the ranks of fewer than 25 such recipients worldwide - at the Cleveland Clinic, Katie has undergone three major revision surgeries and has been hard at work with physical, occupational, and speech therapy. "I am able to touch my face now, and it feels fantastic", Katie said in the video. "Now I want to help other people". According to her father, Robb Stubblefield, she had gone through surgery for chronic gastrointestinal problems, dealt with betrayal in a personal relationship, and suffered because her mother was unjustly fired from her teaching job.

It was paid for by the US Department of Defence through the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. "She's in that late-teen to early 20s, where so many young soldiers are being wounded and injured".

One year later, Stubblefield is hoping to attend college and is considering a career in counseling.

"We think her story is one of the most important stories that we will do this year", the editor said.

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While Katie's medical care team hopes that her surgery can advance the field of face transplantation, there are many other hopes for her future. Stubblefield is reportedly hoping her successful procedure will raise awareness about the lasting harm of suicide and promotes suicide prevention efforts.

Photographer Maggie Steber, who spent two-and-a-half years capturing Katie and her family on camera, said: 'They are warriors. "With a grateful heart, I say "thank you" to all who have made this possible for me".

The young girl's journey in search of a functional face started in March 2016 when she was put on a waiting list.

Globally, close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is about one person every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization.

"I'm definitely taking many, many daily steps".

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.

"They're like eagles who are protecting a young bird".

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