The story of first African-American to receive a Face Transplant
Since 2005, a mere 50 face transplants have been performed worldwide. Face transplants are rare, but Robert Chelsea (68) is different than most patients who received this procedure. He is the first African-American to undergo the procedure as his face was severely disfigured after a catastrophic car accident five years back. Refusing the first replacement face offered to him in May 2018, he spent a couple of years on a waiting list before his second face was ready.
The first time the face offered belonged to a man whose skin was much fairer and this made Chelsea think that this would give completely a different look and hence he declined. The second offer was his near perfect skin-color match. This made him both the first African-American to undergo a face transplant and the oldest recipient ever.
Because of mistrust of the medical system, many African- Americans are wary about becoming donors contributing to organ shortage; in turn, while 30% of white patients on the wait list received an organ, only 17% of black patients got one in 2015.
Marion Shuck, president of the Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT) said that having a visible, tangible reference, especially for African-Americans is so needed and Chelsea's story could inspire potential donors with transplant's positive impact.
- Copyright © 2021. Published by MOHAN Foundation
- Keywords: Robert Chelsea, Face transplant, medical system, mistrust