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what do u think??MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer
the next few weeks, five men and seven women will secretly visit the Cleveland Clinic to interview for the chance to have a radical operation that's never been tried anywhere in the world.
They will smile, raise their eyebrows, close their eyes, open their mouths. Dr. Maria Siemionow will study their cheekbones, lips and noses. She will ask what they hope to gain and what they most fear.
Then she will ask, "Are you afraid that you will look like another person?"
Because whoever she chooses will endure the ultimate identity crisis.
Siemionow wants to attempt a face transplant.
It is this: to give people horribly disfigured by burns, accidents or other tragedies a chance at a new life. Today's best treatments still leave many of them with freakish, scar-tissue masks that don't look or move like natural skin.
These people already have lost the sense of identity that is linked to the face; the transplant is merely "taking a skin envelope" and slipping their identity inside, Siemionow contends.
Her supporters note her experience, careful planning, the team of experts assembled to help her, and the practice she has done on animals and dozens of cadavers to perfect the technique.
But her critics say the operation is way too risky for something that is not a matter of life or death, as organ transplants are. They paint the frighteningly surreal image of a worst-case scenario: a transplanted face being rejected and sloughing away, leaving the patient worse off than before.
Your face will be removed and replaced with one donated from a cadaver, matched for tissue type, age, sex and skin color. Surgery should last 8 to 10 hours; the hospital stay, 10 to 14 days.
Complications could include infections that turn your new face black and require a second transplant or reconstruction with skin grafts. Drugs to prevent rejection will be needed lifelong, and they raise the risk of kidney damage and cancer
Another form tells donor families that the person receiving the face will not resemble their dead loved one. The recipient should look similar to how he or she did before the injury because the new skin goes on existing bone and muscle, which give a face its shape.
All of the little things that make up facial expression — mannerisms like winking when telling a joke or blushing at a compliment — are hard-wired into the brain and personality, not embedded in the skin.
Some research suggests the end result would be a combination of the two appearances.
Siemionow, 55, went to medical school in Poland, trained in Europe and the United States, and has done thousands of surgeries in nearly 30 years. The success of this one depends on picking the right patient
"You want to choose patients who are really disfigured, not someone who has a little scar," yet with enough healthy skin for traditional grafts if the transplant fails, she said "Everything possible. It's a commitment on both sides," she said.
Teffeteller, 26, lives south of Knoxville, in the foothills of Great Smoky Mountains National Park where he worked, ironically, as a fire fighter. The day after Valentine's Day in 2002, he was taking his pregnant wife to buy a cowboy hat and go country line dancing to celebrate their first anniversary.
"The next thing I remember, everything just went all to pieces...there was a big explosion. I remember seeing gas splash off of the windshield," he said
They said my face was charcoal black," he said.
He didn't see it for two months, until he glimpsed a mirror on his way to therapy.
"Oh, my God," he thought. "I remember seeing my eyes pulled open. I remember my ears were burned off, and I remember my bottom lip being pulled down."
Three years later, his face still frightens children. Yet he wouldn't try a transplant.
"Having somebody else's face ... that wouldn't be right. When I look in the mirror, I might be scarred but I can still tell that it's me," he said.
"I'd be afraid something would go wrong, too. What would you do if you didn't have a face? Could you live?"
Siemionow said critics should admit that risks and need for the transplant are debatable.
"Really, who has the right to decide about the patient's quality of life?" she asked. "It's very important not to kind of scare society.... We will do our best to help the patient."
Siemionow said critics should admit that risks and need for the transplant are debatable "Someone's got to push the envelope," he said. "In retrospect, we'll know whether it should be done."