Posted on 20 October 2021
‘A Procedure Without a Problem’, or the face transplant that didn’t happen. The Royal Free, the Royal College of Surgeons and the challenge of surgical firsts' has recently been published in Medical Humanities. This research was part of Prof Fay Bound Alberti's AboutFace project, funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.
This is the first written history of the contested surgical ambitions of the U.K. in the early 21st century, when a team at the Royal Free was poised to undertake the first face transplant in the world. Not only did that not happen, but also the U.K. has still not undertaken a face transplant. The reasons, as this article shows, are not merely technical, but cultural, emotional, political and institutional.