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A New Face For A Strong Woman

Updated on January 17, 2010

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A Controversial Surgery

Yesterday, CNN.com published a piece about the recovery of an Ohio woman, Connie Culp, who had been given a face transplant. It should be noted this was the first transplant of its kind to be done in the United States. The article notes that this historic surgery has caused some debate in the medical world and in the world in general.

In 2004, Culp was shot in the face by her husband from just eight feet away. Police called it an attempted murder-suicide. Due to the metal fragments from the bullet stripping away her nose, cheeks and upper jaw, she was only left with her eyes, chin and forehead. As a result, she was forced to breathe through a tracheotomy (a surgical opening in her neck). Without a nose, she could no longer smell. Without lips, speaking was nearly impossible.Worse even, it left her in excruciating, chronic pain.

Thanks to a donor and a team of talented doctors, Culp can once again eat (and taste) solid foods and drink from a cup. Her pain has diminished significantly. She improves daily. No longer does she have to worry about being ridiculed by insensitive, insecure gawkers as she walks down the street. She feels like a whole woman again.

Yet, there are people who believe that this surgery shouldn’t have taken place. To quote the article, “Some critics say face transplants are unnecessary, because they are risky procedures involving a lifetime of immunosuppressants, that do not save a person's life, but improve an individual's appearance.” While I can understand their view, I do not agree with it. I am aware of people who are so down on themselves that they’d give anything to have a face transplant. If they could look like someone new, perhaps they’d have a chance at having a truly different life. Yet, this is not the case with Culp. For these critics to so casually group a woman who, until the surgery, couldn’t eat solid foods in with plastic people in search of the fountain of youth is not only hardhearted, but misinformed. If these people, so quick to judge and condemn, had taken the time to meet Culp, I’m sure they wouldn’t have such a perspective.

As stated above, Culp must take pills for the rest of her life so her body doesn’t reject the transplant. The surgery was a risk to her health and may prove one day to bring about her end. Yet, given the chance to return to a physical version of her former self for even a short time or to pass on the surgery and remain in pain, unable to eat properly and to be treated like a freak until an old age, I’m sure the risk was worth any future misfortune. In a perfect world, Culp’s disfigurement wouldn’t have been met with stares that only Hollywood monsters deserve to receive. In an ideal world, lunatic men with guns wouldn’t roam free. Yet, sadly, this is our world where the bad often outweighs the good. I hope we can step back now and allow Connie Culp to enjoy a full life with her children that their father nearly cheated her of. May we all decide today to be a little nicer to each other and, in the words of Culp, "When somebody don't look as pretty as you do, don't judge them. You don't know what might happen to you. Don't judge the people who don't look the same way as you do. You never know when it may be taken away from you."

To read the article, please click on the link below. I do warn you though that there are graphic, though important, pictures featured on the article.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/05/04/face.transplant.patient/index.html

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    • LowellWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      L.A. Walsh 

      9 years ago from Lowell, MA

      I agree with you completely, Birte.

    • BirteEdwards profile image

      BirteEdwards 

      9 years ago

      Connie Culp is one of the bravest women I can think of. Not only to go through all the years of pain and ridicule, but standing in front of cameras still with a face that is very distorted.

      It is still a face that will be stared at for some time to come. But standing up publicly she does speak out for others in similar situations. Our reactions to anyone not looking the way our conformity demands are ridiculous. \

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