First Face Transplant
What is the recipient of the first U.S. face transplant doing now?
In 2008, Connie Culp was shot in the face by her husband. In 2009, she became the first American to receive groundbreaking face transplant surgery.
In Pittsburgh, Connie Culp participates in a panel with people whose faces are outside the "norm."
Connie says "as long as a woman has a good body, them guys don't care what you look like."
And almost immediately wins over a crowd of complete strangers.
Connie Culp says "I feel great. I'm starting to get my spunk back. At first i was tired, but i feel really good."
The swelling in her face has gone down dramatically since she was first introduced to the world at the Cleveland Clinic in 2009 and she happily returns there once a month while doctors monitor her progress.
Connie says "after a month, i miss them so much. It's kind of funny. I go around and see everybody again. It's like a family reunion."
And late last year, a literal family reunion. As she met for the first time, the family of Anna Kasper, the woman who donated her new face.
When asked if she was nervous? Connie said "well, I didn't know if they liked me or not or, you know, if we had anything in common to talk about."
Her fears unfounded as the donor's family embraced her. And that has put Connie on a new path as an advocate for organ donation.
Connie says "it's really interesting to meet people and let them know there's hope for them too, you know?"
Part of that message of hope is what brought her to Pittsburgh, to sit with other people whose faces are often met with shocked stares and to turn those stares into opened eyes.
Connie says "there's a lot of good people out there, it's not all bad, you know?"