Someone Else's Face in the Mirror: Identity and the New Science of Face TransplantsSomeone Else's Face in the Mirror: Identity and the New Science of Face Transplants

Someone Else's Face in the Mirror: Identity and the New Science of Face Transplants
Author : Carla Bluhm
Publisher : Praeger
Total Pages : 193
Release : 2009-04-30
ISBN 10 : 9780313356179
ISBN 13 : 0313356173
Language : EN, FR, DE, ES & NL


In 2005, surgeons in France removed part of the face from a cadaver and grafted it onto the head of a 38-year-old woman grossly disfigured by a dog attack. Three years later, in December, 2008, surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic announced they had performed the first U.S. face transplant. Although modern culture is accustomed to pushing medicine and the human body beyond all limits, the world's first partial face transplant and the seven that have followed have caused a stir that still reverberates globally. This book begins with the story of Isabelle Dinoire, the recipient of the first face transplant, and chronicles her surgery and battles with tissue rejection. Its scope widens with a look at how surgical teams, including three U.S. transplant teams, are in a global race to perform the first full face transplant, and at how medical history has led up to this point—with prior successful transplants ranging from body parts as simple as cornea to those as neurologically complicated as the heart, a hand, and a penis. The most novel among these surgeries—the face transplant—conjures up particular and expansive psychological issues. Authors Bluhm and Clendenin show how transplant recipients struggle with functional issues including a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs, a danger highlighted by the recent death of the second face transplant patient, in China. But just as challenging in the case of face transplant is the psychological effect on—and potential threat to—identity. Who are you, if suddenly your face—or a significant portion of it—is not what you were born with? What is it like to look in the mirror, and see a face that is not the one you have always had? Dinoire lamented, "It will never be me." That statement is an absolute simplification of the identity issues a face transplant can create, explain the authors. Bluhm and Clendenin show how, across history and media, humankind—via medicine, literature, film, and other media—has dreamed of a day when face transplants would be possible. With so many disfigurements occurring among the military in Iraq, and experimental face transplants too expensive for implementation in the private sector, it is likely that the U.S. military will take the reins and further face transplant techniques as quickly as possible to serve injured personnel.

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