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The Face of Courage

May 6, 2009
Connie Culp reveals her new face

Connie Culp reveals her new face. Click picture to see how doctors did it.

It was a medical breakthrough that had reporters on the edge of their seats:  they were about to meet the Cleveland Clinic’s first face transplant patient.  What they saw was the face of courage.  Five years after Connie Culp was shot in the face and permanently disfigured, she was ready to face the cameras and the scrutiny, and although she knew the media circus was for her, she asked that we remember others.   “I think it’s more important to focus on the donor family that made it so I could have this person’s face,”  Connie said.

No, she’s not the same attractive woman she was 5 years ago before her husband Thomas shot her in the face with a shotgun in a failed murder-suicide.   But she’s also not the same disfigured woman she was just a year ago when she had no nose, no sense of smell, no way to eat, no confidence to brave the stares she’d get in public.   “Society rejected her,” Dr. Maria Siemionow told the news crews.  “People called her names, children were afraid of her.”    Dr. Siemionow has given her back the nose, her sense of smell, the ability to eat her favorite foods, and the courage to face people again.  Her smile’s not all there yet…but doctors believe it will be soon as her nerves and muscles learn how to work together again.       

Connie’s message for us?  Remember the Golden Rule:  “Don’t judge people who don’t look the same as you do.  You never know…one day it might all be taken away.”   A viewer called after seeing this story on News 11 and said “I think her new face looks a little like that comic strip character “Cathy” and we all love her!”

Five years ago, Connie Culp liked what she saw in the mirror.  I hope she loves the face she sees now.

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One comment

  1. I alsway love your titles Chrys. This is the face of courage. I saw what she looked like before, after and now. She is still beautiful. I have always found that “shallow” ppl really don’t know what beauty is. Beauty really is the person and not what they look like on the outside.(but she does look beautiful). I know many beautiful looking ppl who will never be more beautiful than Ms. Culp. I do understand why she wanted the surgery. I just want her to know that she is such an inspiration. We also have to give a THANK YOU to the donor and family who gave such a wonderful gift for Ms. Culp who is willing to share not only her “new face” that once belonged to their loved one but also to the doctors who have the knowledge to make a difference in Ms. Culp’s journey in life.



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