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The Global Lane - September 7, 2018

The incredible story of Katie Stubblefield who survived attempted suicide & later became the youngest recipient of a face transplant. How God & the Cleveland Clinic gave Katie a new face & life; Also, those at greatest risk of suicide in the USA. Read Transcript

- CBN News thanks the Cleveland Clinic

for making this program possible.

Today from the GlobalLane, acting on impulse

at her lowest time,18-year-old Katie Stubblefield

took a rifle and shot herself in the face.

She survived and laterbecame the youngest recipient

of a face transplant.

How could this happen toa former pastors daughter?

And what role did God andthe Cleveland Clinic play

in helping Katie find a new face and life?

What Katie and herparents want you to know

if you're thinking aboutending your own life.

And it's all right here, rightnow from the Global Lane.

(upbeat music)

Each year about one millionpeople commit suicide worldwide.

That's about one tragic endto a life every 40 seconds,

or 3,000 per day.

Today we bring you theamazing story of a family

caught up in tragedy.

In March, 2014, Katie Stubblefield failed

in the attempt to kill herself.

The non-fatal gunshot wound to her face

caused her to lose most of her vision

and the ability to speak.

Her face was terriblydisfigured, but she found hope

and help in God and a teamof medical professionals

at the Cleveland Clinic.

Last year in May, 2017, Katiebecame the youngest person

in the world to receivea full face transplant.

It took years in and out of the hospital,

a 31-hour surgery, andthree subsequent operations.

She still needs therapyand treatments, but Katie

has found new life out of the darkness.

Katie Stubblefield, hermom Alesia, and here dad,

Robert, join us from theRonald McDonald house

at the Cleveland Clinicin Cleveland, Ohio.

They're here to share their amazing story.

So Robert, Alesia, mostparents of children

who have attempted or committed suicide

say they were unaware thattheir child was having issues.

They never really had a cluethat something was wrong.

What was your experience?

- I would say, obviouslyinitially, Alesia was

physically close by inthe scene if you would

so to speak, I was at work that day.

So obviously it was justone of just unbelief,

it was very surreal, shock, horror,

because there was nothing thatwould give a tell-tale sign.

You know I was a ministerfor over 20, almost 25 years

and dealt with a lot ofcounseling situations

and this time I'm in a place to where

there was nothing there, there was nothing

that was a precursor tosaying something like this

would be on the horizon.

- Robert, you were at work,what was your reaction

when you were firsttold that your daughter

had shot herself?

- Well, it was just, it was pure shock.

Because I was at work, mywife was there, she called me

and her words to mewere that Katie's gone.

And I said, what do you mean gone?

I knew that she'd beenupset over some particular

dynamics and went to her brothers home

and I asked, I said "What do you mean?"

And she said, "She shot herself."

And at that moment I'm literally,

I was in a planning area at the school

and I literally rememberstanding straight up

and looking straight ahead,and you've seen the old movies

to where the camera kindof zooms in in one of

those kind of moments, andit was like an immediate

tunnel vision, and thenfrom that point I began

to go and get someoneto take me to the site

which was probably lessthan 10 minutes away.

And it was horrific.

- Alesia, what was your experience?

- Total shock, I think I wasin shock for days probably.

I mean, we had raised two other teenagers

and Katie, by far, wasprobably our easiest teenager.

We kind of, God had beenquite gracious to us

we didn't really, we had some storm,

you know, a few things inlife, but overall our kids,

they were pretty easy on us.

And to think that Katie would have even

thought about hurting herself blew me

probably off the map.

I mean, we talked a lot inour family about everything

you could possibly talk about.

I remember talking withKatie one night about

Rick Warren's son, I thinkit was we were talking about,

I think he had some depression.

But then we talked about teenagers

and sometimes how when things happen

how you would react.

And we kind of with our kids would not say

if this happens, we'dsay when you get into

this situation, tell us what you would do.

And so our kids would tellus, well you know mom,

and Katie and I had prettymuch talked about everything.

And so we just preparedKatie for, you know,

Katie always had a deep soul.

I mean when Katie madea commitment to anything

or anybody, it was alwaysusually 10 times more

what other people would do.

So we always knew that about Katie.

But at the same time, wealso felt like Katie was

always our type kid thatwould think things through

before she reacted, buton that day she didn't

and we'll never know exactly what went on

in the closet that day.

Katie was a hunterherself, she went hunting

in high school, all threeof our kids did it some

a little bit for theculture where they were.

I don't think any of themwere like long hunters,

but they all did it a littlebit because of the culture.

But Katie knew gun safety,

so what she went to herbrothers closet that day.

Do we think she actuallyreally wanted to die,

I would probably say no.

I pretty much would say no.

Do I think she had aimpulsive moment, yes.

Katie will tell you by her own admission

that she said I guess I lostmy way for a while, mom.

Whether it was five minuteor an hour, I lost my way.

And she can't go backwards,we have to go forwards,

but as far as herattempting to hurt herself

in any way, shape, or form,totally blew me off the map.

- When we come back, alook at the amazing team

of doctors and medical care personnel

at the Cleveland Clinic whowork tirelessly to help rebuild

Katie's face and life.

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(upbeat music)

- [Gary] After her failed suicide attempt,

the medical team at the Cleveland Clinic

performed a surgery never done before

on someone as young as Katie Stubblefield,

a face transplant.

A doctor in Memphis recommended the rare

and delicate surgery.

- The head doctor therecame to Rob and I and said,

"I really think the onlything that's gonna help

"Katie get back life," and he said it

would be a face transplant.

And we had heard that term one other time,

but Rob and I reallydidn't know exactly about

a face transplant, but we talked with this

head trauma surgeondown there and he said,

the chances of Katie gettin' in, he said

I didn't even know whetherto bring it up to you

because the chances of hergettin' in are pretty slim

because she has so many things going on.

She's so frail, but he said,"But I've made some calls,"

and he said the first placeis the Cleveland clinic,

and he said there's only afew hospitals in the country

that do these, but hesaid but that would be,

if this call comes through, he said,

and this doctor was a good Catholic man,

he goes, "Don't think aboutit, don't pray about it,

"I don't care what you have to do,

"just get on the plane and go."

And we're like oh okay, hegoes that's all you have to do.

'Cause he was gettin' readyto go to his sons graduation,

he said I may not ever see you guys again,

but if that call comes through, go.

And it did come through,it happened in a matter

of hours, that's prettyan unbelievable story

how that happened too,it happened so quickly.

And then when we arrivedhere in Cleveland,

my husband came up with heron May the 2nd, the flight,

'cause only one parent could go,

so I told him you'll haveto be answering questions,

so to be honest you,even five weeks later,

it was just still so surreal

that we were walkin' through this.

And so he went with Katieon the plane on May the 2nd

and then I came up a daylater 'cause I got stuck

in the Chicago airport, butfrom the time we got here,

our Doctor Gaspin, I thinkhe was probably shocked

at what he had committedto also, because you know,

he's thinking transplantand then the next thing

I think he's thinking is Ijust wanna keep this girl alive

because I don't thinkhe really knew what he

was gettin' into either, and he may,

I don't think so though.

But then from there, theCleveland Clinic has just,

God has just been extremelygracious to us with

our team of transplant doctors.

Katie has had so manyprocedures, so many surgeries,

and we're still not there.

She still has to have somerevision, we still have

a whole full year of therapy, on steroids,

but the Cleveland Clinicand our doctors here

have, I mean they savedher life in Memphis,

don't get me wrong, theyliterally, in Memphis,

they kept her alive, buthere at the Cleveland Clinic,

we've just had some of the best doctors

probably in the country,probably even the world.

But we know as Christiansthat God has given us

the doctors that he wants for Katie

and I don't think there'sprobably a day that goes by

that we don't thank theLord for the doctors

that have been placed in Katie's life.

- How are things now, one year later,

after that transplant surgery?

- I would say it's,there's a lot of progress,

some people think that when you have

this surgery of this kind of situation

that in a matter of five,six weeks you move on.

But it's a slow train coming so to speak.

It's something to where amajor, major thing has happened.

I call it the mothership of surgery,

but it's a situation to where

there's just so much yet to be done.

It's a thing to where we justhave things that have to be

accomplished at certain levelswith speech, especially,

and rehabs and straighteningand so we've come a long ways

and we still have a long ways to go.

- So I guess it doesn't really matter

what your profession is,it could happen to anyone.

- There was a, I rememberwhen my son was very little

and we were pastoring at this small church

in another statesomewhere, he did something

and somebody said, "Robert,and your the pastors son."

And he looked at her like,what do you mean I'm,

what's that, what's that supposed to mean?

He was clueless on that 'cause we just,

we didn't raise them in a fishbowl.

Other times many peopleI know stereotype wise,

they would try to put you in a fishbowl,

but we never quite fit into that.

We were kind of outside thebox in a lot of regards,

but you know, some people in this setting,

I do know that along theway there's probably a few

that have said, how couldthis happen to a family

who professes faith, and especially maybe

at one time was in thiskind of thing vocationally,

and so forth, yeah, people have certain

criteria and expectation that is just,

is extraordinarily unrealistic.

It doesn't matter, you knowthe thing that is so true

in this journey that I know many people

may or may not understand,is that this type of thing

when there's an attemptedself-harm of a individual,

this type of thing doesnot respect religion,

it doesn't respect socioeconomicstatus, your color,

your culture, that hasnothing to do with anything.

But this is something thatis just, there's an element

out there that, an unseenelement that really is,

I guess for a lack of a better word,

a force to be reckonedwith and an attack upon

so many lives, especially of this age.

- When we return, findingstrength to overcome

through faith, where was Godin the midst of Katie's ordeal?

Also, some final words forthose who may be thinking

about ending their life.

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- Attempted suicide andfacial reconstruction.

Now God and the Stubblefields.

This wasn't just a short term surgery,

you guys spent years in the hospital,

multiple surgeries, how didyou ever get through it?

- Well, the bottom line is isthat we have a relationship

with Christ, and that may soundcliche-ish to many people,

but it's one of thesituations, we both came from

a Christian faithbackground, that's who we are

and that's what we've been for so long.

But this was a scenariowhere it went from,

and it went from just whatyou believe, your faith

value system, and yourupbringing, or anything like that,

it came to the point towhere you faced something

that put a demand onit, and it was something

that either this was realor this was not real.

And for us, it was realand it was our ultimate

recourse of where we foundour strength, our sanity,

our ability to cope.

- Robert, you're a former pastor.

Some people might say,how could this ever happen

to a pastors family, hischild attempting suicide.

- I had been out of thepastor for a number of years

when all this had transpired, but let me,

in backing up, thebackstory on that would be,

the way we raised ourkids is that I always,

I had a philosophy, amindset, and it probably

got me in more trouble than it helped me,

and was that I used to tell people that,

first of all, I'm aguy, I'm a human being,

who is a Christian, who justso happens to be a pastor.

And I kept in that order,and we raised our kids

in as much of a everyday, normality mindset

as anybody else.

- We always said at the end of the day,

we have our relationship with Christ,

and then we have our family.

And there's nothing oranything that we can't

walk through together.

So we kind of just, thatwas always the thing

that always, that waslike my rock foundation.

So to think that any of my kidswould have hurt themselves,

I have to be honest with you,I was very blinded to that.

And so this whole thing withKatie has opened my heart

and mind up because Ihave had, you know, being

in the Christian world my whole life,

I have had some dearfriends and some not so dear

ask me, like how could Katie, and why,

and even a Christian, Imean Katie came to know

I would say, if you askKatie when she accepted

Jesus as her savior, she would tell you

when I was a little girl.

That's what she would tell you.

But you know, people thatare Christian's get cancer,

people that are Christian'sgo through divorce,

people that are Christian'shave teenage kids

that drink and drive.

I've learned there's notone thing we're exempt from.

And I really didn't thinkthat it could happen.

It wasn't that I thoughtthat things couldn't happen,

but this particularthing, suicide, you know,

life being so precious and it's a gift

and there's nothing youcan't, you know there's always

someone to talk to,there's always, you know.

And like Katie just said,your problems are temporary,

they're not permanent.

Some things may last longer,but when you're 18 sometimes

and you're going throughrejection and pain

and lots of things, because ofthe way God wired that brain,

that frontal lobe, thatcortex, they're very impulsive.

It's not always mentalhealth, I do think there are

a lot of teenagers thathave mental health issues,

I'm not putting down mentalhealth, but a lot of times

we've been with ourpsychiatrist here at the clinic

for four years, and sheknows Katie very well.

And she has told us all alongthat she felt like Katie,

which she's dealt with alot of this in her years

of her profession, wasdefinitely impulsivity.

But that's something I thinkthat we have to educate

youth more about because youknow, I think in high schools

we talk about drinking anddriving, we talk about drugs,

we talk about safe sex, butwe don't talk about the soul

issues too much.

- Katie, what do you want people to know

about suicide and whathas happened to you?

I'm sure this has been verypainful, a lengthy ordeal,

but you're still alive and God is good.

- Alesia and Katie'sstatements have shattered

everything overall thatobviously, number one

that life is a precious thing.

I mean, that's an immediate thing.

But I think a thing torecognize is is that

there is something there that really

is after the lives of young people,

whatever the age bracket might be,

and that we aren't, as Alesia said,

we're not exempt frommany different angles

that would try to attackour lives and come at us.

But to recognize on a practical basis

that if you are in those low places,

whether you've hadsymptomatic things or not,

whether it's just impulsivity,reach out to someone,

whether it's a priest, apastor, a rabbi, a friend,

a relative, anybody, there'ssome human being somewhere

that you can latch onto thatyou can communicate with.

And at the end of the day,that there is a God who is here

and that he will helpand he will strengthen,

and that you are not alone.

Ultimately, you are not aloneand you do not have to choose,

that has been said before,a permanent solution

to a temporary problem.

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(upbeat music)

- We often hear aboutAmerica's opiod epidemic,

but did you know there wealmost as many suicide deaths

in the United States in 2016as there were opiod deaths?

It's a national crisis.

US Veterans are amongthe most susceptible,

their suicide rate is doublethe rate for non-veterans.

The annual suicide ratefor veterans is about 30

out of every 100,000.

The civilian suicide rateabout 14 per 100,000.

Folks, we've gotta domore to prevent this.

20 veterans each day take theirlives, that's unacceptable

for one of the worlds wealthiest nations.

Last year I discussed veteransuicide with my congressman,

Scott Taylor, he's a formerNavy SEAL who understands

all too well some of the causes.

He also offered some solutionsto help our veterans.

- People don't reach outto the VA, they just don't.

They don't call the suicidehotline, they're not walking

up there, they're lookingfor potentially someone else

who understands them,other veterans that are

sort of emergencyresponse to help them out

and their families.

And again, there's that gapwhen they leave the service,

become veterans, so my office is working

on a suicide preventionprogram, actually right here

in Virginia Beach andthe surrounding areas

to look at that gap andsay okay, let's look at a

public/private partnershipthat brings the VA in,

that brings folks thatare working on traumatic

brain injury and PTSD and depression

and also a quick responseforce if you will,

that can go right to thatveterans house, 24/7,

to bring them in, to help them in,

and then keep them close totheir families as well too.

So I think that we need tochange the way that we look

at suicide prevention withthe VA and we certainly

need a uniform policy across the VA

for people who actuallyphysically walk there.

- Native Americans areanother neglected group.

Did you know, our indigenous population

suffers from a suicide rate of 60% higher

than the general population?

At one time the rate of theCrow Creek Sioux reservation

in South Dakota was seventimes the national rate.

Our Mark Martin oncevisited that reservation.

He talked to the peoplethere, one man explained why

he attempted to end his life.

- I thought I was all aloneand everything like that

and I tried committing suicide.

And the person that foundme was my oldest daughter.

- That is common, may ofthose attempting suicide

say they felt they were all alone.

But as Katie Stubblefieldsaid, there's always

someone who cares,someone who will listen.

Many Christian ministry groups are working

with Native Americanreservations and veterans,

sharing the love of Christ,reaching out to those

to help them.

Many people who maythinking about suicide,

also people suffering fromalcohol and substance abuse.

Sandy Gabe is a NativeAmerican who found help.

- All they have to do is reachout their hand like I did

and God took my hand, give me something.

I'm glad of that.

- God loves you and he hasa better plan for your life.

So if you are contemplatingsuicide, or you need help

overcoming an addiction, oryou're just finding it hard

to cope with life, there'salways someone you can turn to.

Call the National SuicidePrevention lifeline

at 1-800-273-8255 or the CBNprayer line, 1-800-700-7000.

And remember what Godsaid in Jeremiah 29:11.

He has plans to prosperyou, not to harm you.

Plans to give you a hope and a future.

Well that's it from theGlobal Lane, be sure

to follow us on Facebook,YouTube, SoundCloud,

iTunes, and Twitter.

And until next time, be blessed.

(upbeat music)


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