On Tuesday, Connie Culp let the nation witness the results of her full face transplant. Five years ago after a shotgun blast, inflicted by her husband, damaged the majority of her original face.
The bony structure that once supported her face was gone, as was most of her face. She could not breathe other than through a tracheotomy, could not smell, could not even drink or eat normally.
Several dozen reconstructive surgeries left her not much better off. Connie became afraid to go out in public where doctors say children would run away from her because of her appearance.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic set out to try something that had never been done before, not to the extent they had planned for Connie, a total face transplant.
Specialists say their purpose for even considering the surgery is not cosmetic. Their goal was to restore her facial functions and to give Connie the ability to eat and breath, to smell and to interact socially as normally as possible once again.
Surgeons in December removed not just the skin, but the bony structures underneath, the nerves, facial muscles, lower eyelids, the palate from a local donor and in a 22 hour surgery attached the donor face to Connie.
Connie has gone through approximately 30 surgeries over the last five years. The doctors wanted to leave room just in case there was swelling before they do the final surgery which will pull up the loose skin on the sides her face.
So happy to hear you can smell and eat again. I wish you the best Connie!