Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Put On A Happy Face"

Modern science has been able to transplant organs like hearts, lungs, kidneys, and even eyeballs. The Cleveland Clinic recently received approval to attempt a new and controversial surgery. They have finally gained approval for transplanting a FACE.

Yes, a face.

We live in a society that automatically judges others by their looks, and for the many thousands that are disfigured from horrible accidents like facial burns, the painful scars run beyond being skin deep. They might have recovered physically from their trauma, but the emotional and psychological pain continues after the healing.

Here's how the operation proceeds:

1)They receive the face from a cadaver, matching the patient's skin tone, age, sex, and tissue as best as possible. That's right - they get a dead person's face. Ewwwwwwwwww!

2)The new face is surgically placed on the patients - a pair of veins and arteries from both sides are connected, and 20 nerve endings are stitched together. Little sutures then anchor the new face to the patient's scalp, neck, and other openings like eyes, nose, and mouth.

3)Anti-rejection pills must be taken forever, and the patient still risks infections and other complications - including tissue rejection. The face could then begin to rot and fall off (OK, I didn't need to include that detail, but I thought I'd throw that in for 'shock value').

4)Follow up counseling to help the patient with any emotional and psychological issues that could arise. Gee...like having a dead person's face attached to your head?

Those that oppose the face transplant say the risks are too great for a non-life-threatening situation. Also, there's the issue of morality - is taking the face of a deceased person the right thing to do?

Matthew Teffeteller, his face disfigured from an explosion in a car accident, would never get the surgery. "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.

How about the whole creepiness factor. Could you imagine wearing some other person's face? Experts believe you won't necessarily look like the dead person - that your new face would be a combination of the dead person AND you. WHAT? You'd be like a walking morph-head!

That reminds me, ever see that movie Face Off? John Travolta plays an FBI agent trying to bring down Nicholas Cage's criminal character. Travolta gets Cage's face transplanted in order to go undercover. But all hell breaks loose when Cage (the criminal) gets Travolta's face transplanted on HIM. Clever, huh? It's like a Who's on First Thriller with bullets and kung fu.

So in the future, when you sign the back of your driver's license and consent to donate your organs in the event of your death, are you essentially and possibly giving consent to donate your FACE as well? OK, that thought just gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Imagine the other ramifications if this science is perfected and viable:

>Criminals could get face transplants to escape the authorities.

>It would radically change plastic surgery - forget the rhinoplasty, gimmie Marilyn Monroe's face...literally!

>Bill Clinton could get a new face, take on a new identity, and run for President AGAIN.

>How about if some bereaved person wants to pay homage to his Uncle Robert by wearing his face for the rest of his life? Oh man, that's a great way to give heart attacks to all your relatives at a family reunion.

Michael Jackson could BE the elephant man...or John Lennon.

Face transplants would put the EXTREME in "extreme makeover." So who's dead face would YOU want to wear if you could?


siren said...

Hmmm...whose dead face would I want? Well, they would have to be recently dead, so there goes a lot of choices. You wouldn't want old dead faces, because then you would just look old and dead, sort of like Joan Rivers.

I choose Salma Hayek; I know she's not dead, but that can be arranged. And while they're at it, I want a body transplant too.

Jim said...

Phoenix! Inspired Headline!

Here are the full lyris, with italics added:

Gray skies are gonna clear up,
Put on a happy face;
Brush off the clouds and cheer up,
Put on a happy face.
Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy,
It's not your style;
You'll look so good that you'll be glad
Ya' decide to smile!
Pick out a pleasant outlook,
Stick out that noble chin;
Wipe off that "full of doubt" look,
Slap on a happy grin!
And spread sunshine all over the place,
Just put on a happy face!
Put on a happy face
Put on a happy face

Nancyrowina said...

It's your head bones and muscles that decide what you look like, so you probably would look like yourself when it healed, I can't see criminals swapping faces and being able to escape the law in the near future.

Gerald said...

I guess old people will buy young faces. Given the cost of facelift surgery and inch-thick make-up it will probably be cost effective.

And stupid. And hideous.

I can't imagine whose face I would want. Maybe a female one so I wouldn't have to shave!

The Phoenix said...

I thought Joan Rivers WAS dead...I thought it was another "Weekend At Barnie's" sort of thing. I swear I saw Melissa Rivers pulling puppet strings on her mother's dead body.

The Phoenix said...

Ha! That's great...hey buddy, don't you EVER sleep?

Your own muscles and bones are what shape your face, but some of the asthetic qualities from the donor would still remain. Also, criminals these days undergo plastic surgery to escape the law. Desperate times, desperate measures.

OK...that really just creeped me out. Old people with young faces. Gross!

cube said...

Weirdness, but you wouldn't complain if your face looked Dr. Phibes'. It's all relative.

the weirdgirl said...

This whole thing creeps me out! Ew ew ew.

I guess it was only a matter of time... I've heard they can grow replacement ears on the back of rats, but that takes time so why not skip the middle man? If we see a sudden rush of models kicking it we'll know why.

The Phoenix said...


The ear on the back of a rat was actually just surgically replaced...I was going to use a picture of it for one of my earlier posts on genetic engineering, but it just grossed me out too much.
I think just getting a dead person's ears would be a little weird...internal organs and stuff are different - it's life preserving and you can't see it.
How weird would it be to look in the mirror and see the face that used to belong to someone else????

Nan said...

I don't even remember any dead people at the moment - Marilyn Monroe perhaps - someone really Diva like :D

Jillian said...

LOL -- I especially like the picture of Michael Jackson holding up what looks like various nose types ha ha! Oh that's priceless.

Not that I didn't read the whole thing, mind you -- I agree that there could be some problems with criminals assuming new identities by getting 'face-lifts', etc. You know?

Scott said...

Not what I was searching for, but none the less and interesting blog here. Thanks for putting it up. I've enjoyed reading alot of the text here. I got you bookmarked for the future, I'll be back.

My site is a bit different, some think it's odd. I guess it's a matter how you look at it. I have a body express makeover related site. Most of the articles are on body express makeover.

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