Amazing Human Transplant

Ryan, 16, lost half of his nose to cancer at the age of 3. Since then, he's worn a prosthetic nose to hide the huge hole left behind by the cancer. Ryan had to wait until his body stopped growing before he could undergo reconstructive surgery on his nose. Thirteen years after having half of his nose removed, Ryan was ready for surgery. He had to endure five different surgeries, which took skin from his forehead and groin and cartilage from his ear to reconstruct his nose. He spent a total of 15 hours in surgery and each procedure required three weeks of recovery time. The total cost for Ryan's surgeries: $65,000.

Born with a skull abnormality called craniosynostosis, Isabella was just 3 months old when she underwent surgery to reshape her head. The surgery required doctors to restructure the plates in her head and took six hours to perform. The operation cost $20,000-plus, and it will take Isabella two years to fully recover.

Lori underwent gastric bypass surgery a few years back in order to lose weight she'd put on during years of hard times in her life. The surgery was successful — she lost 170 pounds in two years — but Lori was left with loads of excess skin. Lori underwent an operation that removed 20 pounds of excess skin from different parts of her body. She also got breast implants. The procedure took five hours and cost $25,000. It took Lori about three weeks to fully recover.

Robin, 47, has been a flight attendant for 14 years and was beginning to feel that her face was showing the effects of many hours clocked onboard airplanes. To undo what time and her lifestyle had done, Robin had laser resurfacing, a brow lift and rhinoplasty. It took 4.5 hours and cost $13,000. Robin's recovery time was four weeks.

Stanley, 54, has spent nearly his entire life with acne scars on his face and a nose he didn't like. As a teacher, he's on stage every day and wanted to feel good about himself once and for all. In order to achieve this, Stanley underwent a laser peel, neck liposuction, a chin implant, a face lift, a brow lift and rhinoplasty. Stanley was in surgery for 4.5 hours and will need six weeks to fully recover. His procedures added up to $30,000.

Susan, 46, a chef who is constantly working on deadline and in a fast-paced environment, found that her face was showing the effects of long nights and age. She became very self-conscious and, as a result, reclusive. She turned down friends' offers for nights out or dinner dates. In an attempt to turn back the hands of time, Susan chose to undergo nine procedures: a brow lift, fat removal from the eye area, a mid-face-lift, cheek implants, a face-lift, a neck lift, lip augmentation, fat grafting and laser resurfacing. The surgery took 5.5 hours and cost $60,000.

Vertice, 44, is an R&B singer living in Hollywood. As she became more popular, Vertice became increasingly concerned about a large flap of excess skin at her waist, which was the result of gaining and losing weight over the years. To treat this, she underwent a tummy tuck and a little bit of liposuction. After all was said and done, Vertice lost 8 1/2 pounds of skin and fat. Her surgery took three hours and cost $10,000. It will take Vertice two weeks to heal completely.

Wendy, 37, was content in life, but not with her looks. Since high school she's been bothered by the shape of her nose and always shied away from photographs — even on her wedding day. Wendy chose to undergo a nose job as well as have her lower eyelids lifted, liposuction under her chin and fat injected into her cheeks. Her surgery took five hours, cost $18,000 and took two weeks to recover from.

Above: A family photo of nine-year-old Sandeep Kaur before a grass-cutting machine completely amputated her face and scalp. The machine caught one of Sandeep's braids and then pulled her head in. Sandeep's mother, who witnessed the accident, said: "I didn't know where her face was. Everything was peeled off."

Sandeep Kaur's face arrived in two pieces at a hospital in India where it was replanted onto her skull 10 years ago. "Looking at it, I said: 'Is it possible to do anything at all?'" said Sandeep's doctor, Abraham Thomas, one of India's top microsurgeons, who was on duty when Sandeep arrived at the hospital unconscious with her face in a plastic bag. "It was actually quite a frightening sight," said Dr. Thomas. "The first response was 'Oh my, God, I cannot do that (reattach her face).'"

Sandeep Kaur after her groundbreaking face replant. Although they didn't realize it at the time, Sandeep's doctors were making history. Sandeep's operation is considered the world's first full-face replant. It has inspired a team of doctors in Louisville, Ky., to attempt the first human face transplant.

Sandeep Kaur aged 19, 10 years after the accident that ripped off her face and nearly claimed her life. Today, Sandeep is training to be a nurse. Says Sandeep: "I think God had to have sent Dr. Thomas. It was such a big tragedy." Her miraculous surgery has begged the question: If it's possible to attach one's own torn-off face, is it possible to transplant a face?

John Barker, a research scientist and the man behind the team of U.S. doctors who plan to attempt the first face transplant. "Hopefully we can dispel some of the myths that are out there … of face transplantation. This is not a Hollywood movie. This is science," says Barker, who is among the many doctors inspired by Sandeep Kaur's face-replacement procedure.

"We've now transplanted heart, liver, lung, pancreas, bone, skin, nerve — so why aren't we doing it on the face?" asks Joe Banis, a top reconstructive surgeon in the United States and part of the human-face transplant team. Banis, 56, is renowned for his ability to rebuild faces, including that of a man who lost part of his face after falling 45 feet from a construction crane and skewering himself with an iron rod.

Transplant surgeon Nadey Hakim (left) was part of the surgical team that transplanted the hand and forearm of a dead man onto amputee Clint Hallam. Anti-rejection drugs tricked Hallam's body into believing that the transplanted tissue was the same as his own. "There is no doubt that it was a historical day," recalls Hakim. "We saw the history happening in front of our eyes."

Clint Hallam's newly transplanted hand and forearm. The 14-hour operation highlighted the possibilities for other cutting-edge transplants, including a face transplant. More than two years later, however, the pioneering operation went disastrously wrong. Hallam asked surgeons to remove the hand.

Jacqueline "Jacqui" Saburido before being hit by a drunk driver that left her face permanently disfigured. The car in which Jacqui was riding caught on fire, causing third-degree burns to 60 percent of her body. The majority of people burned as badly as Jacqui die.

Jacqui Saburido after being hit by a drunk driver. To date, Jacqui has undergone more than 50 operations. Doctors have tried to reconstruct Jacqui's eyelids, nose, mouth and neck. "But really for me, if I can do a face transplant that will be wonderful, but it depends on how many positive or how many negative things," Jacqui says. For complete rehabilitation, Jacqui would need a total face and scalp transplant. That would mean a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs with side effects that include a higher risk of cancer and diabetes. There's also the danger that a new face would be rejected, requiring Jacqui to undergo difficult skin-graft operations

Surgeon Marshall Strome risked his medical reputation by giving patient Tim Heidler a larynx transplant. Recalled Strome: "I said to my wife: 'If this fails, people are going to say I was nuts for the rest of my life.'" But Heidler, whose larynx was crushed in a motorcycle accident, was determined to have Strome do the operation. Heidler told Strome that — like facial disfigurement — losing his voice was like losing his identity. As he spoke through an electrical larynx, Heidler told Strome: "No one will ever appreciate what it's like to talk like this."

Three days after the operation to replace his crushed larynx, Tim Heidler (shown here talking through an electrical larynx), spoke his first words in 20 years. He said: "Hi, my name's Tim Heidler and the day today is January 21st."

If you have the kind of head where even hookers tell you they've got a headache, you're in luck. Recent success with face transplants can transform your vomit inducing mug into something more visually palatable. Hell, you might even get laid!

 The condition of a 29-year-old man who had the lower half of a donor's face transplanted onto him 12 months ago. We're sure you'll agree that he's gone from a "two bagger" - when you put a bag over your head in case the bag over his head breaks - to a veritable Brad Pitt...well maybe not quite.

Face transplant procedures have come a long way since the early days where things didn't always go to plan.

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