Face Transplant Recipient Connie Culp Offers Thanks
Connie Culp, 46, is the recipient of the first United States face transplant, by the Cleveland Clinic in the United States.
She was shot in the face from 8 feet away in an attempted murder/suicide by her husband back in 2004.
There was nothing left but her eyes, chin and forehead. She had no nose. She could not eat. She could not taste, or eat solid foods. She had to speak through a tracheostomy in her neck. She'd suffered chronic pain since then.
She hooked up with the Cleveland Clinic back in 2005, but after 30 procedures, she still did not have her basic abilities back.
So last December, after receiving a deceased donor's face, she underwent a 22 hour facial transplant.
A news conference was held on Tuesday, and Connie Culp, along with the experts from the Cleveland Clinic, spoke of her long and painful story to become whole again.
In a soft voice, the Ohio mother of two repeatedly thanked the medical staff and the deceased donor whose nose, upper lip, cheekbones are now hers.
"I want to focus on the donor family that allowed me to have this Christmas present," she told reporters gathered at the Cleveland Clinic, where her surgery took place.
Two months after the surgery, Culp was discharged from the hospital and returned home. Before the surgery, Culp could not eat solid foods. She could not taste.
"Connie can now enjoy her food," said Dr. Maria Siemionow, who led the transplant operation. "She eats hamburgers and enjoys her pizzas, she's drinking coffee from the cup"
Her new face allows her to "blend with society."
"As you can see we have now a healthy person and happy person," Siemionow said. "She has reduced dramatically her pain and also she's able to walk on the street without being called names."
"When somebody don't look as pretty as you do, don't judge them. You don't know what might happen to you."
"Don't judge the people who don't look the same way as you do. You never know when it may be taken away from you."
CJaye's NowPublic article Connie Culp first face transplant patient reveals herself