Connie Culp, before and after the operation.
|Born||March 26, 1963|
|Known for||first U.S. recipient of a face transplant|
Culp was shot in the face by her husband Thomas G. "Tom" Culp in a failed murder-suicide in September 2004 inside their bar in Hopedale, Ohio. He also survived and was convicted in 2005 of aggravated attempted murder with a 7-year prison sentence. Culp forgave her husband at the sentencing and said she will be waiting when he gets out of prison, but on September 22, 2009, Culp said on an episode of Oprah that she no longer plans to wait for her former husband after her daughter asked her, "Mom, what kind of example would you be setting for me if you went back to the man who shot your face off?"
The shotgun blast destroyed Culp's nose, cheeks, the roof of her mouth and an eye. She underwent 30 operations prior to the face transplant on December 10, 2008. Surgeon Maria Siemionow led a team of doctors in a 22-hour operation which replaced 80 percent of Culp's face with the face from another woman who had recently died.
Her nose was rebuilt and some of the disfigurement repaired in the operation. The Associated Press reported that Culp was able to breathe on her own and eat solid food following the transplant, adding "Ms. Culp's expressions are still a bit wooden, and she remains almost blind (right eye is prosthetic, left eye is damaged), but she can talk, smile, smell and taste food again, and has learned braille. Her speech is at times difficult to understand. Her face is bloated and squarish, and her skin droops in folds that doctors plan to pare away as her circulation improves and her nerves grow, animating new muscles." She now works as an advocate fostering understanding for survivors of burns or other disfigurements.
In 2010, Culp had her final facial surgery performed and had regained much of her facial function, including the ability to smile, speak, and feel facial sensations due to the regrowth of facial nerves.
- Kroenig, Julie (April 13, 2005). Man Shoots Wife in Face...Sentenced to 7 Years. WTRF
- Mazure, Steve (April 14, 2005) Gunman Sentenced--Wife Forgives Him. WBOY
- Staff report (February 25, 2008). Woman Speaks Out After Husband Shoots Her In Face. WTOV
- Winslow, Ron (May 6, 2009). Face-Transplant Patient Emerges. Wall Street Journal
- Bradley Blackburn & Lana Zak (August 26, 2010). The First U.S. Face Transplant Patient Learns To Smile Again! ABC News
- Associated Press (May 5, 2009). Connie Culp, Nation's First Face Transplant Patient, Emerges.