Face-Transplant Recipient: Don't Judge People by Looks

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2009 6:37 PM CDT
Connie Culp, who underwent the first face transplant surgery in the U.S., speaks to the media Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
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(Newser) – The nation's first face-transplant recipient met the public for the first time since her December operation, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Connie Culp, who had been shot by her husband in 2004 and essentially lost the middle of her face, has "progressed tremendously," said one of her doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. Today, Culp can breathe and eat on her own and eventually will be able to smile.

"This is not cosmetic surgery in any sense of the word," said another doctor. Culp is due for a follow-up procedure to remove excess skin, another step toward a normal face. She recalled being taunted in public before having the transplant. "When somebody has a disfigurement or doesn't look as pretty as you, don't judge them," she said. "You never know what happened to them and you never know what might happen to you."