Connie Culp Revealed As First Face Transplant Recepient
Connie Culp who underwent the first face transplant surgery in the U.S. was so awe inspiring at today's news conference. In December, Cleveland Clinic did the first U.S. face transplant, a procedure which took 22-hour. At the time nothing was revealed about the patient. Today she came forth and stepped in front of the camera at a Cleveland Clinic press conference.
Connie Culp, 46, has a soft voice. She is still learning to speak so not all of her words are perfectly articulated, but her speech is clear enough. She reports that she can now smell. She is now able to eat foods that require chewing such as hamburgers and pizza. Before the surgery she was only able to drink through a straw.
Her injury resulted from a gun shot wound to her face in 2004 inflicted by her husband. The injury took most of her mid-face. Her forehead and chin remained. She had no nose, so breathed through a tracheostomy (a surgical opening in her neck). She had no lips with which to speak.
Now, the very grateful mother of two stated, "I want to focus on the donor family that allowed me to have this Christmas present." The surgery replaced the lost facial tissue and bone. Culp is able to speak and eat, but does not have enough facial muscle control yet to form a smile. She laughs easily with joy.
She asked the public to have empathy for people with facial disfigurements. "When somebody don't look as pretty as you do, don't judge them," Connie Culp said. "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."
The new face of Connie Culp has given her the ability to be in the public with less judgment than before. Culp recalled how children where often scared by her old face. Dr Siemionow, the head surgeon, noted "The last resort and the last option was to consider face transplantation." Transplant recipients have to take immunosuppressing, anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their life.
Cleveland Clinic Press