Connie Culp: First US face transplant recipient revealed

connie-pulp-face-surgery

Connie Culp, the United States’ first-ever face transplant patient, appeared in public for the first time today and thanked the doctors who performed her surgery after a devastating 2004 shooting incident left her disfigured.

Culp, 46, lost most of the midsection of her face. She was left without a nose, a palate or lower eyelids and could not breathe on her own or eat solid food following the incident

Five months ago, she received a new face from a dead woman and underwent a procedure that lasted 22 hours at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Surgeons replaced about 80% of her face.

“Well, I guess I’m the one you came to see today,” Culp said at a press conference at the Cleveland Clinic. “While I know you all want to focus on me, I think it’s more important you focus on the donor family that made it so I could have this Christmas present, I guess I should say.”

Culp’s husband, Thomas, shot her in 2004, then turned the gun on himself. He went to prison for seven years. His wife was left clinging to life. Hundreds of fragments of shotgun pellet and bone splinters were embedded in her face.

The surgery garnered widespread media attention shortly after it was completed.

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[Image via Brisbane Times]