In May 2017, Katie Stubblefield received a face transplant. Just 21 years old, she was the youngest person to go through the procedure.
Katie’s family had moved to Northeast Ohio since the Cleveland Clinic performed transplants. As they waited for a match, they turned to MetroHealth Medical Center for occupational and physical rehabilitation.
“She didn’t really even have like the control of her body to sit up in a wheelchair,” said Sue Ann Philippbar, speech pathologist. “She had no nose, she had no lips, a lot of flaps of skin.”
Philippbar worked with Katie as she learned to speak and walk, and ultimately, learn she had a donor.
Doctors had found a match in a 31-year-old single mother who died from an overdose.
“God just sent us the right people. I mean we had the perfect doctor, we had the perfect therapist,” said Alesia Stubblefield, Katie’s mother.