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Woman Lost Half of Her Face in 1999, Now Doctors Were Able to Give Her a New One

She would never see or smell again. She would also lose her sense of taste and a part of her hearing, doctors told her.


It was supposed to be a fun evening for Chrissy Steltz when she co-hosted a spring break house party in March 1999. It ended in unspeakable trauma for her as a shotgun blasted her face in half, leaving her blind and without a nose.

The party was held at the house she shared with her then-boyfriend Will O’Brien. A guest found a shotgun under the couch. Steltz told him to “put that down before you kill somebody,” but he only replied with “Oh, don’t worry. It isn’t loaded.”

It was supposed to be a fun evening for Chrissy Steltz.

Moments later, the shotgun fired and Steltz absorbed the full impact. It tore off half of her face and left her bleeding to death on the floor. O’Brien described the horrific sight of his girlfriend shot in the face.

“I don’t know if you have ever seen like a wounded animal trying to get up,” O’Brien recalled, “That’s what I saw. I saw an injury that nobody survives, except somebody really strong, and she was trying to get up.”

She was living with O’Brien when the incident happened.

She was rushed to the hospital. Surgeons succeeded in saving her life, but the damage was terrifying.

Dr.Eric Dierks, one of the surgeons who operated on her, said:

“The blast itself removed the contents of her left eye socket, removed her nose and the supporting mid-facial structures and damaged her right eye to the extent that she lost vision.”

They placed Steltz on a drug-induced coma for six weeks and did what they can to salvage what was left of her face.

When she woke up, the extent of her injuries was explained to her. She would never see or smell again. She would also lose her sense of taste and a part of her hearing.

She also sustained some damage to her brain. Dozens of shotgon pellets were lodged so deeply in her brain that doctors were not able to remove it.

Steltz, understandably, was shocked to the core upon learning of her injuries. But amazingly, she decided to put up a fight in living life the best way she could.

“When I finally knew what had happened to me and that I had lost my sight and that it would never be coming back,” said Steltz.

“I knew I could sit back and have a pity party, or I could figure out what to do and go about doing it, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Steltz studied Braille and walked with a cane. She also went back to school, attended prom, and graduated with straight A’s.

Her relationship with O’Brien eventually ended, but she found love with another blind man named Geoffrey Dilger.

They got married and had a son named after his father.

Steltz was forced to wear a mask to cover her eye and nose area. In 2010 (eleven years after the incident), a team of doctors were able to create a prosthetic face for her.

Her son was her main motivation for undergoing the procedure. She wanted her son to “grow to know his mom looking like a regular person versus a sleep shade.”

Silicone was used to create the prosthetic. Doctors removed damaged tissue from Steltz’ face and created a passage for her breathing. Dental implants were added to her facial bones. The face was planted using screws, metal plates, skin grafts, and bone from Steltz’s left leg.

The result was a face that came with full makeup look – eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara. These were baked on the silicone.

Doctors and nurses donated their time to the procedure since Steltz’ insurance wouldn’t cover it. The entire thing cost $80,000.

Her family and friends were overjoyed to see her new face.

Her prosthetic face will have to be replaced after a few years, but Steltz couldn’t ask for anything more. Her mind is more at peace knowing her son will get to see a realistic face when he looks at his mother.


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Chris Norton has been paralyzed neck down after a football game in 2010 and was only given by doctors a 3% chance of walking again.

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