First US near-total face transplant recipient unveils results of her surgery

May 6th, 2009 - 3:41 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 6 (ANI): Forty-six-year-old Connie Culp, a shotgun attack victim who was the first person in the U.S. to receive a near-total face transplant, has unveiled the results of her surgery.The woman was left without a nose, a palate or lower eyelids after being attacked by her husband in 2004.

Her operation at the Cleveland Clinic in the state of Ohio lasted 22 hours.

A team of 11 surgeons, who operated on her, transplanted about 80 per cent of her face using facial tissue from a dead woman that was placed like a mask atop her own.

They said that Culp, who was missing bone support and had been unable to eat or breathe without a tube in her windpipe, could now perform functions normally.

“We think this … procedure has changed her life dramatically,” Sky News quoted Maria Siemionow, the clinic’s director of plastic surgery research, as telling reporters.

Even though it was reported in December that America’s first face transplant had been conducted, Culp’s identity and the incident that had disfigured were kept secret.

“Well, I guess I’m the one you came to see today,” she said after being helped up to a podium at a press conference.She, however, added: “I think it’s more important that you focus on the donor family that made it so I could have this person’s face.”

Culp recalled that when plastic surgeon Risal Djohan first looked at Ms Culp’s injuries, “he told me he didn’t think, he wasn’t sure, if he could fix me, but he’d try.”

“Here I am, five years later. He did what he said - I got me my nose,” she said with a laugh.

Siemionow said that the transplant “was the most complex functional restoration in the world today”. (ANI)

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