First U.S. Face Transplant Patient Appears To Thank Doctors

May 5, 2009

Left Before Accident - Middle after accident - After transplant

Photo: Via Cleveland Clinic

(ChattahBox) — Connie Culp, 46, revealed herself Tuesday as the United States’ first-ever face transplant patient.  Until today, Culp’s identity and how she came to be disfigured were a secret. Culp’s husband, Thomas, shot her in 2004, then turned the gun on himself but survived. He went to prison for seven years according to reports. Connie made her in progress debut to thank the doctors who performed 23 hours of surgery five months ago, to repair damage from the devastating shotgun blast that left her disfigured (center photo) without a nose, lower eyelids, upper jaw, palate and other features, and unable to eat or breathe on her own.

“Well, I guess I’m the one you came to see today,” the Ohio woman said at a press conference at the Cleveland Clinic, the scene of her surgery. “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.”

At a news briefing the team of eight doctors that performed the operation reported that the surgery will enable her to drink from a cup, eat solid food, smell and breathe through her nose. The surgeons removed most of the face of a deceased donor and placed it onto Ms. Culp like a mask, incorporating portions of her own visage. About 80% of the patient’s face was replaced.

Culp’s expressions are still a bit wooden, but she can talk, though her speech is at times a little hard to understand. Her face is bloated and squarish, and her skin droops in big folds that doctors plan to pare away as her circulation improves and her nerves grow, animating her new muscles.

Via: Detroit Free Press


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7 Responses to “First U.S. Face Transplant Patient Appears To Thank Doctors”

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