Suicide survivor becomes youngest person ever to receive a face transplant at 21

A 21-year-old woman became the youngest person in the United States to receive a face transplant, three years after shooting herself in a botched suicide attempt.

Katie Stubblefield doesn't remember the day she tried to take her own life in the bathroom at her older brother's home in Mississippi on March 25, 2014 - nor much after that.

She was transferred from her local hospital to Memphis, Tennessee to Cleveland, Ohio in a desperate bid to save her.

On May 4, 2017, after battling through, 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 revealing her struggling, released today.

Katie is the 40th person in the world to receive a face transplant; the third at the Cleveland Clinic, which is regarded as the pioneer in the US.

However, hers is slightly different: not only is she the youngest ever, but it is one of the longest ever performed.   

Historic: Katie Stubblefield tried to take her own life in March 2014 with a rifle. On May 4, 2017, she became the youngest person ever to receive a face transplant. Pictured: Katie (left) aged 17, eight months before her attempted suicide; and (right) at 22, a year after her transplant

Historic: Katie Stubblefield tried to take her own life in March 2014 with a rifle. On May 4, 2017, she became the youngest person ever to receive a face transplant. Pictured: Katie (left) aged 17, eight months before her attempted suicide; and (right) at 22, a year after her transplant

WHAT LED TO THE SHOOTING  

Relatives told National Geographic that Katie was a fun girl with an electric humor growing up in Lakeland, Florida, and she was close to her older sister Olivia and older brother Robert.

But over time, they say, they started to see her recoiling, pressuring herself to be the best in academia and sport. 

When she was around 16 years old, her parents Alesia and Robbb, a minister, moved the family to Kentucky, then a year later to Oxford, Mississippi.

There, both Alesia and Robb became teachers at the same Christian school where Katie enrolled as a student.

According to the magazine, as soon as Katie arrived at school she met a fellow student who immediately captured her attention. The two started dating and she was soon talking 'love' and 'marriage'.

He was a rock for Katie as she endured uncomfortable and severe health problems.  In January 2014, in her senior year, she had her appendix taken out, the digestive issues she had long battled started to flare up, and she had her gallbladder removed. 

But in March, the headmaster of the school - who Katie saw as a bedrock of support - made both her parents redundant.

On March 25, she saw texts on her boyfriend's phone from another girl, and when confronted, he ended their relationship.

She went to her brother's house, distressed. Then went to the bathroom and shot herself under the chin using his hunting rifle, a .308-caliber.

Robert told National Geographic he rushed upstairs, found Katie on the floor, and 'her face was gone'.  

Katie's surgery was the longest face transplant ever performed, and she is the youngest recipient. National Geographic photographers have shadowed her for two years, and today shared her story

Katie's surgery was the longest face transplant ever performed, and she is the youngest recipient. National Geographic photographers have shadowed her for two years, and today shared her story

HOW DOCTORS SAVED HER LIFE - AND SUGGESTED A TRANSPLANT  

According to National Geographic, Katie was hospitalized in March 2014 in Oxford, Mississippi, with intracranial injuries.

Shortly after, she was transferred to Memphis, Tennessee, where doctors stabilized her.

They inserted a tracheostomy, stabilized her jaw and cheekbones, sewed her eyelids shut so her corneas could heal, and patched up a torn

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