Surgeons in OR

Katie’s New Face

Surgeons in OR

Featuring: Maggie Steber and Lynn Johnson

Presented By

National Geographic

Curated By

Kurt Mutchler, Senior Photo Editor, Science

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Katie Stubblefield is the youngest person to receive a face transplant in the United States and only the 40th person in the world. This story chronicles her remarkable journey from 2016 to 2018 at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, experienced through intimate photographs.

Until Katie decided to let National Geographic tell her story, these life-changing transplant surgeries had been hidden within a medical labyrinth. Patients were not revealed until healed and prepped for a news conference where they showed their new faces, along with photos of their disfigured ones. No one had chronicled the experience of losing a face and getting a new one until now.

Her parents, Robb and Alesia, fought for their daughter day in, day out to nurse her back to health after she attempted to take her life by a rifle shot to the face in 2014.

This is a story of trauma, identity, resilience, devotion, and amazing medical miracles.


A 2017 Guggenheim Grant recipient, Maggie Steber is an internationally known documentary photographer whose work has appeared in major magazines, newspapers and book anthologies as well as national and international exhibitions. She has worked in 69 countries specializing in stories of underrepresented people.

Best known for her photo essays in National Geographic and her humanistic documentation of Haiti, she published Dancing on Fire: Photographs from Haiti with Aperture in 1991.

Steber was named as one of 11 Women of Vision by National Geographic. Steber has worked as a picture editor for Associated Press, a contract photographer for Newsweek magazine, and as the Director of Photography at the Miami Herald. She is a member of VII Photo Agency. Her photographs are included in the Library of Congress, the University of Miami Richter Library, and private collections.

Lynn Johnson photographs the human condition. A regular contributor to National Geographic, Johnson is known for finding meaning in elusive, difficult subjects — threatened languages, zoonotic disease, the power of cannabis and the brain science of altruism and violence. She collaborates with the people she portrays.

At National Geographic Photo Camps, she helps at-risk youth around the world develop their creative voices. At Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, she has developed a mentoring program that challenges master’s students to push past their comfort levels in pursuit of their own truth, frame by frame.


Established in 1888, National Geographic is a trusted print and digital publication offering stories that illuminate, inspire, and reveal.

Our mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures, the sciences, and the natural world. We advance that mission by creating visually stunning, richly reported photojournalism and distinguished, impartial coverage of the globe’s most pressing issues.

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