Woman disfigured by gunshot gets full face transplant

Chief Surgeon Dr. Frank Papay performs the Cleveland Clinic's first full face transplant. (Cleveland Clinic/DPSI Medical Photography)

CLEVELAND (AP) - 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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