May 5th, 2009
08:48 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Face Transplant Patient Revealed

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/05/04/face.transplant.patient/art.face.transplant.cnn.jpg caption="Connie Culp, 46, was identified as the first recipient of a face transplant in the United States."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

America's first face transplant recipient is no longer a secret. Her name is Connie Culp. The 46-year-old mother of two spoke at a news conference at the Cleveland Clinic today, where the groundbreaking operation was performed five months ago.

"I guess I'm the one you came to see today," she said as she showed off the results of the transplant.

It's been a long journey for Connie. Five years ago, she had been shot in the face from just eight feet away by her husband, then he turned the gun on himself. Neither died. He went to prison for seven years. She struggled to survive. The shotgun blast destroyed her nose, cheeks and one eye. She lived in constant pain. She couldn't breathe on her own and relied on a tube in her windpipe to help her. Connie underwent 30 surgical procedures to try to fix her face. None worked.

That all changed back in December when she underwent the 22-hour face transplant surgery.

Tonight 360 MD Sanjay Gupta shows us how the procedure was done and see how it has transformed Connie's life for the better.

Would you undergo a face transplant if needed?

Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.

See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Oyinkan A

    Connie is an amazingly strong, courageous and motivated woman to be able to go through all this. I am happy for her and wish her good luck and speedy recovery.
    I don't understand though how her husband got only 7 years in prison. I think he could and should do more time.
    I also applaud the surgeons.

    May 6, 2009 at 3:50 am |
  2. kmohamed

    Hi Maureen,

    This is good news for the thousands who are undergoing such an ordeal and for the rest of us because we are all potential candidates-you never know what will happen next.

    a question though, how many can afford to undergo such a transplant? how expensive is it? and of course you need to think about the ethical aspect to it(what does christianity/Islam) say about it?

    Groundbreaking! bravo to the medical team.

    May 6, 2009 at 3:25 am |
  3. Molly Wingwaiter

    The man ruins mars her face like that, almost killing her & only gets a few years behind bars. That infuriates me. But I'm so happy modern science gave her back what so many people take for granted. Well done doctors & staff! Well done!

    May 6, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  4. kay, Huntsville, AL

    I really hope Connie Culp gets better. I will be praying for Her! It is sad that people do things like that to other people. Some people call them dogs. I say don't insult my dog like that!

    May 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  5. Pam Mark Hall

    The Real question here is not would I have a face transplant, but how would I deal with such an abusive husband? And with all the progress made under the Clinton administration toward eliminating
    domestic violence, why is there still inadequate punishment for his and other domestic violence crimes? And then there's that pesky gun control issue!

    May 5, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  6. MikeM

    Cool, I hope she has a better life due to the transplant and yes I would get one also if offered to me and I was involved in some kind of violence towards me that left me without a face or very disfigured face.

    I heard your story and felt very sad about it, I hope your face transplant helps you alot and you have a happier life cause of it. Take care and god bless you!

    May 5, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  7. christlyn

    I cant believe that Connie had the resolve to wait and trust that her horiffic injury would be managed, far less healed! I couldn't do it. She is a brave and inspiring person.

    May 5, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  8. Carolina V

    What an amazing woman! Even if she's living with a different face, her struggles and sufferings cannot be replaced.
    The seven years her husband got in prison will never come close to the five years of desperation trying to survive. Great Story!

    May 5, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  9. Guerline Welle

    Unbelievable, God bless her. I don't think i could go on. I am so proud of her. She is one strong woman. But i guess it wasn't her time her. Its up to the high power if he wants you now or later. We will never why we survive certain tragedy. Be grateful at all time in life

    May 5, 2009 at 10:04 pm |
  10. Krasi, Houston, TX

    Wow, I wouldn't say no to a face transplant if the procedure is absolutely necessary. It's the person on the inside that counts, right?

    May 5, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  11. Clara

    This is amazing! I am so happy for Connie Culp... she went through a lot of hardship to get here and I hope she feels it was worth it. I applaud the surgeons who gave this brave woman a new, functional face-their effort and compassion is a beautiful thing to see.

    May 5, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  12. Chris

    This is an amazing story. Unbelievable! I am so incredibly impressed by her courage.

    May 5, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  13. Isabel

    Hi, Maureen!

    Glad you back! I felt your absence in the Evening Buzz!

    22-hour face transplant surgery?

    The story of Connie Culp shows much strength of will, claw, determination and courage.

    I don't know if I would all this. I love to live and I love my life, although sometimes I claim of my life, but it is difficult to say. Really, I don't know.

    I hope that recovery of Connie Culp is absolute. It deserves!

    Thank you

    May 5, 2009 at 9:34 pm |
  14. Cookie Cutter

    I am totally amazed and stunned by the images I saw of this poor woman. I cannot imagine the pain she has endured. And the doctors… No wonder people think of them as "Gods.” They perform miracles! I know I could have not gone through it… I’m too vain. Ms. Culp is a very strong woman. I wish her and her family well.
    Luv & Peace!
    Cookie Cutter

    May 5, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  15. Kimberly

    Seven (7) years is all this guy got for shooting her in the face and trying to kill her. She underwent 30 surgeries, could not eat and could not breathe and all that he got was seven (7) years. Our justice system is in serious trouble if all this guy got was seven (7) years in prision. This woman is couragous and beyond brave. I wish her all the luck in the world!

    May 5, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  16. Sandra Robertson

    Good evening Maureen. Yes I would undergo a facial transplant if need be. This is such an inspirational story for all those who suffer, as Connie Culp did. I am proud to be an organ donor and in knowing I may be able to help save a child or an adult from a life of suffering.

    I am looking forward to the show tonight; it's storming and I hope the cable doesn't go out.

    May 5, 2009 at 9:04 pm |