Face to Face: My Quest to Perform the First Full Face Transplant
In December 2008, Maria Siemionow, M.D., made headlines by performing the world’s first near-total face transplant. It was an extraordinary event in a thirty-year medical career marked by many astonishing milestones.
Now she recalls her remarkable journey in Face to Face, a unique memoir that traces the path from her childhood in Poland to her medical training there and in Finland. Her arrival in the United States in the 1980s, as a fellow at the Christine Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery in Louisville, Kentucky, confirmed her future as an award-winning researcher and world-class surgeon, leading ultimately to the controversial facial transplant procedure that revolutionized the field.
Weaving fascinating medical science with a captivating life story, Face to Face explores the emotional, cultural, and moral implications of the twenty-first-century advances that have helped Dr. Siemionow’s work thrive. She also provides details of the perseverance that led her to become the first U.S. physician to receive Institutional Review Board approval for facial transplantation surgery, followed by the poignant selection process as she was bombarded with compelling requests from prospective patients, and ultimately the successful completion of an operation that captured the world’s attention.
Both a chronicle of a groundbreaking surgery and a deeply moving story of personal courage, Face to Face also shares Dr. Siemionow’s inspiring philosophy about the identities, physiological traits, and biological needs that combine to create our individual faces. Celebrating this triumph of form and function, she transforms the way we feel when we look in the mirror—and the way we think about those who dedicate their lives to healing and hope.