Connie Culp was the first face transplant patient in the United States: here’s her incredible story

Connie Culp’s life was irrevocably altered in 2004 when her husband shot her in the face. It obliterated 80 percent of her face, including her nose and cheeks, rendering her unrecognisable. She miraculously lived, but her future remained uncertain. During a shopping trip, one child even labelled her a “monster.”

Connie was given a second chance at life five years later. Thanks to a generous donor, she had the first near-total face transplant in the United States. The Cleveland Clinic surgery took 23 hours and a lot of amazing effort from professionals.


She received a completely new look after several additional procedures and surgeries.

Connie Culp and her husband, Tom, had not even finished high school when they met and fell in love, going on an unknown adventure. They went away together when they were 16, despite not completely understanding what they were doing.

Finally, the couple decided to operate a tavern in an Appalachian town. Despite their feelings for each other, Connie’s husband did not treat her well.

“My relationship with Tom was similar to living with my father. He told me what to do, and I followed through. He made fun of me and called me names. “My father did the same thing, so I just assumed it was a normal way of life,” she explained to Oprah.


Connie began to rebel after years of being mistreated.

Connie’s life changed forever on September 21, 2004. Her husband shot her in the face after accusing her of flirting with another man. He then turned it on himself and pulled the trigger, but he escaped.

Connie made it downstairs and found her twin sister, Bonnie. Bonnie then dialled Alicia, Connie’s daughter.

“I always knew he had the potential to really hurt someone, I just didn’t think it would be my mom,” her daughter recalled.

Connie’s nose, cheekbones, the roof of her mouth, and an eye were all destroyed by the blast. Her upper eyelids, forehead, lower lip, and chin were the only areas of her face that were not harmed.

Of course, it was a heinous charge. Connie, on the other hand, claims she was unaware of the extent of her injuries at the time.


“You’re actually in shock, and you don’t feel anything,” she explained. “Your adrenaline was pumping so fast there was no pain.”

Fortunately, an emergency medical technician was nearby. To stem the bleeding, he scooped some ice and pressed it against her gravely damaged face.

Connie was largely blind, unable to smell or communicate, and had to breathe through a surgical incision in her neck. She was lucky to be alive at all.

“I misplaced my sense of smell.” I lost an eye and my nose. My jaw had to be wired shut. “I didn’t lose any teeth during the incident,” Connie explained, “but the top of my mouth deteriorated, and I lost my entire top mouth.”

“I could feel my face just sliding down.”


Later, her husband was sentenced to seven years in prison. Connie stated in 2009 that she forgiven her husband on the same day. Nonetheless, the pair later divorced.

“I will always [love him].” “I mean, I have two children with him,” Culp explained. “However, you know what? “I can no longer be with him,” she told ABC. “I’m not going to let anyone talk about it; I spent six years thinking about it.” And guess what? It’s a new beginning now. I’ve changed my appearance. “I’m a new person.”

Connie suffered 30 surgeries over the following five years as surgeons worked to rebuild her face. Face transplants were uncommon at the time. In reality, no one in the United States had ever received one.

Connie would go down in history as the first person in the United States to get a new face. Of course, it would be a long time before her quest was over.

Connie tried to live her life as regularly as she could as she waited. Unfortunately, she was subjected to harsh comments from individuals she didn’t even know.

While shopping, she overheard a child comment she looked like a monster.

“‘You said there were no real monsters, Mommy, and there’s one right there,'” says the child. Connie recalls the boy pointing in her direction.


“‘I’m not a monster,'” she says. Connie answered by pulling out her driver’s licence to show the child her former appearance. “I’m a person who was shot.”

Connie was subjected to a battery of medical and mental examinations to ensure her bodily and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, they had no idea when or if they would ever find a donor, and she was aware that the breakthrough procedure could fail. There was even a risk it may make her seem worse than she did before the incident.

Then, on December 9, 2008, the Culp family received wonderful news. The Cleveland Clinic had located a donor, Anna Kasper.

Anna’s family characterised her as lovely and caring. Unfortunately, she had walked onto her back porch, smoked a cigarette, fainted in the cold, and died. Her family was certain that Anna would have preferred to donate her face to aid someone in need.


“Connie’s like Anna in a lot of ways,” Anna’s husband, Ron Kasper, remarked.

“As far as her personality and how much she enjoys life and how she smiles and is still able to have such a great attitude after everything she’s been through, she takes everything in stride.”

“She’s a very special person,” he continued. “And Anna was, too.”

“She said she’d give her time. She’d give her cash. “She gave away a lot of things she didn’t have to other people,” Ron continued. “When they asked about [organ] donation, we knew it was exactly what she would want to do.”

Facebook Comments