Woman disfigured by gunshot gets “total face transplant”

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CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Dr. Frank Papay speaks to the media during a press conference at the Cleveland Clinic on December 17, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. A multi-disciplinary team of doctors and surgeons at Cleveland Clinic recently performed the first near-total face transplant in the United States. The female patient, who had sustained a traumatic injury, had 80% of her face replaced in the 22-hour procedure. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Clinic says a 21-year-old woman disfigured by a gunshot as a teenager has received a face transplant.

The hospital says the 31-hour surgery in May was its third face transplant and its first “total face transplant.” It included her scalp, eyelids, nose, facial muscles and nerves, teeth and much of her jaw.

The medical center isn’t sharing names and other details about the patient and donor to protect their privacy.

A hospital statement on Tuesday quoted the recipient as saying recovery has sometimes been difficult but she’s thankful for the medical staff and the “incredible gift” from the donor and the donor’s family.

Doctors say the transplant will help the woman breathe, speak, chew and express emotions more effectively. They say facial reconstruction alone wouldn’t have accomplished that.

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