Cleveland: Recipient of first face transplant progressing well

10:34 AM, Sep 14, 2010   |    comments
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After all she's been through, Connie Culp is thankful.

"Thank goodness I'm here today. I'm doing really good. Really good," Culp said.

The 47-year-old mom of two is thankful for her doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, who were able to rebuild her face: 30 surgeries followed by a transplant in December 2008.  (In 2004, Culp's then-husband shot her in the face.) 

She's also thankful for the organ donor who made her recovery possible.

"Without it, I would have had a hole in my face my whole life," Culp recalled.

Culp, who lives in Steubenville, was in Cleveland this week for a regular, monthly check up with her medical team at the Cleveland Clinic. 

Her doctors say she is progressing well, after a face lift performed a month ago, Culp's final major procedure. 

While here, Culp also spoke at the opening of the new Northeast Ohio headquarters for LifeBanc.

LifeBanc coordinates organ and tissue donors and recipients throughout the region.  They had 116 donors last year who were able to give life-saving donations to 400 people in need.

At the new offices in Warrensville Heights, volunteers and staff hopes ton expand LifeBanc's outreach.

Part of LifeBanc's mission is to raise awareness about the need for organ donor registration. While numbers are on the rise, just 56 percent of people in Ohio sign up to be organ donors.

At the non-profit's reception, Culp was able to meet some of the team who helped find her match for a face transplant. 

As she continues to heal, Culp says she'll continue to be a voice, so others in need can hopefully one day find their match.

"We need more voices out there. I wish more people would donate. Without donation, a lot of people die," Culp said.

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