Face transplant recipient and donor's family meet
December 20th, 2010
02:52 PM ET

Face transplant recipient and donor's family meet

The donor’s family and recipient of the first face transplant met Saturday, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The Plain Dealer has details about the donor, Anna Kasper, a Lakewood, Ohio, woman who took care of nursing home patients and died of a heart attack at age 44. After her death, her family agreed to have her face used in the transplant surgery conducted at the Cleveland Clinic.

Ron Kasper, her widower told the Cleveland newspaper: "The overriding factor was we knew it was what Anna would've wanted," as he fought back tears.

The transplant recipient is Connie Culp, whose face was reconstructed after a shotgun blast shattered her nose, cheeks and upper lip.  Her injuries left her partially blind, unable to smell and speak, and dependent on a  surgical opening in her neck to breathe.

“On Saturday, Connie and Anna's family met for the first time - privately - talking, laughing and crying for 90 minutes,” according to the Plain Dealer.

The donor family had watched every interview Culp had given.

Culp and Kasper had much in common – they both had a grandchild about a year old at the time of the surgery in 2008.  They were born about 14 months apart, had similar skin tone and shared the same blood type, according to the paper.

Read more about Connie Culp.

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. CT Nurse

    Wow...how amazing. She looks beautiful now! This is a generous act on the part of the donor family, and it is wonderful to know that there are people who care so much for others. I can't imagine how the recipient must feel when she is able to put on her make-up and earrings just as she did before. Best wishes to all.

    December 20, 2010 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MichaelJ.

      @Alex You're a moron.

      December 21, 2010 at 01:28 | Report abuse |
    • Bob U

      People like Alex need to make comments like that so he can feel better about himself.

      December 21, 2010 at 01:50 | Report abuse |
  2. Mary

    That is truly a miracle! I second your thought CT Nurse, what a generous thing for a family to do as they are dealing with a loss of a loved one. They may as well have given her a new heart because they gave her a new life!

    December 20, 2010 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Patti

    god bless all involved being able to help this woman as she has proven she is a true survivor

    December 20, 2010 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kevin

    Fantastic. The smile in the third picture pretty much says it all.

    December 20, 2010 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bitnar

    In interviews, she seems like such a sweetheart. Now she looks as adorable on the outside as she is on the inside.

    December 20, 2010 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Elizabeth

    What a triumph to have come so far and endured so much. Connie Culp's smile says so much about the survival of the spirit and the beauty we all have within us. Anna Kaspar's family is to be congratulated for their generosity and kindness beyond the extraordinary. What better love than to give the gift of a new life to Connie Culp when Anna's ended? What a great way to honor Anna Kaspar's memory. Thanks for a really touching story, and may G-d watch over you all.

    December 20, 2010 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Laura

    Wow! Such a beautiful woman. How can the donor be only 44 with such gorgeous skin? Truly amazing and wonderful. The world need people like the Kaspers. Blessings and comfort to both families!

    December 20, 2010 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Robyn

    In Reply to Alex's Comment

    This woman has more beauty on the outside then you could ever hope for to have in your heart. You must be an ugly person inside, and it must show on the outside too.

    Yes, Alex, this woman is beautiful...

    December 20, 2010 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. mini

    Wonderful story of courage and joy... so inspiring !!
    go Connie and the Kasper family ! You all are so beautiful because you have COURAGE and INTEGRITY.

    December 21, 2010 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. colleenarn

    @alex....yes absolutely beautiful

    December 21, 2010 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Maverick

    I firmly believe in a line from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: "let us redefine progress to mean just because we CAN do a thing, it does not necessarily follow that we MUST do that thing". As a nurse I feel medicine sometimes goes too far for those who will not have a good quality of life. There are times, however, when that quote does not apply, and this is one of those times. The second chance she received from a generous family, especially in a most painful time for each, helped both in immeasurable ways, and in ways most of us will never fully understand. Bless all those involved, and may Connie continue to heal and be prosperous.

    December 21, 2010 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Maverick

    For the rest of us, if you would like to donate organs and tissues upon your death, please check the laws in your state. Some have a First Person Donor Registry (where you provide binding consent before your death, taking the burden off your family making the decision), or others where you can signal your INtent to donate (your family must give consent, but they know it's what you wanted). In any case please let your family know your wishes so when the time comes, it's less agonizing for them. Make one person legally responsible for making the decision if no one else can or will be able. But do it, so others can have a better quality of life, and you will be remembered for a wonderful gift long after the echo of your voice has faded away.

    December 21, 2010 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Truefax

    She's lucky to be alive, kind of hard to belive someone can live through a shot gun bast to the face, must have been from the side. Still she's lucky she wasn't decapitated.

    December 21, 2010 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • truther

      We're all lucky to be alive.

      December 21, 2010 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
  14. Tiffany

    I assume that Alex's comment was removed....good.

    If I was shot in the face, I don't think I would ever get out of bed again, much less have my picture taken and let my story be told. God gave us this woman to remind us to stop complaining, give what we can to those who are in need and to never give up.

    December 21, 2010 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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