Katie Stubblefield lost her face at 18, when she attempted to take her own life, shooting herself in the face with a rifle.
Three years later, she became the youngest person to receive a face transplant in United States history.
"I never thought of doing that ever before, and so on hearing about it, I just didn't know how to handle it", she told National Geographic.
Ms Stubblefield lost parts of her forehead, her nose and sinuses, most of her mouth, and bones that make up her jaw and structures of her face.
Plastic surgeon Dr Brian Gastman, the first clinic doctor to see Katie and the man who would go on to lead her transplant procedure, recalled to NatGeo that he was initially only concerned with stabilizing Katie, and he anxious that even if that went to plan, there wouldn't be enough tissue available for corrective surgeries due to her small size.
Her procedure involved replacing her full facial tissue - transplanting the scalp, forehead, upper and lower eyelids, eye sockets, nose, upper cheeks, upper jaw and half of lower jaw, upper teeth, lower teeth, partial facial nerves, muscles and skin. She also added that Schneider's son was not yet aware that his mother's face was being used, too, though he presumably will be soon. But even though she made more than a dozen visits before this, her parents tried to make sure her life was as normal as possible when she was out. 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 awesome", she said.
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In total, her organs have saved the lives of seven people. They took Katie to eat at restaurants despite the looks and comments she'd receive, spent time with her outside and celebrated her birthday. A grant from the US Department of Defense, through the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, covered Katie's transplant, according to National Geographic. "She's in that late-teen to early 20s, where so many young soldiers are being wounded and injured". She is the 40th person in the world known to have received a new face. "Her brain was basically exposed, and I mean, we're talking seizures and infections and all kinds of problems".
One year later, Stubblefield is hoping to attend college and is considering a career in counseling.
The young girl's journey in search of a functional face started in March 2016 when she was put on a waiting list.
Suicide awareness remains critical, said Katie's mother, Alesia.
In the U.S., suicide rates significantly climbed in 44 states from 1999 through 2016, according to a report published in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"So many people have helped me".
In 2016, guns were the most common method used in suicide deaths in the USA, accounting for 22,963 - nearly half of all - suicide deaths, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. They are warriors. They're like eagles who are protecting a young bird.