Would you have a face transplant? If a dog had ripped off your nose and cheeks and lips, would you be able to learn to live with the damage, or would you be keen to consider taking on someone else’s face?
Perhaps the issue that raises most anxiety is the question of identity. Psychologist Diana Sanders, waiting for a heart-lung transplant, asked “Will I still be me?”. With someone else’s face, how much more immediate the concern.
And it is the fear that burdens relatives of both the donor and recipient. From our face, and the way it moves, others recognise us, and even if they do not know us, they read our emotions, infer our sex, make estimates of our intellectual, social, and even moral status. After the operation, will the recipient’s parents recognise their daughter? Will the donor’s parents recognise their daughter?