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Monday
Dec202010

Connie Culp, Recipient of First US Face Transplant, Meets Donor Family

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Since Connie Culp had her face torn off by a shotgun blast in 2004, she's measured her recovery with countless milestones. This weekend, Culp reached another, finally meeting the family of the donor who gave her a new face.

Culp, a 47-year-old mother and grandmother, underwent the first full face transplant surgery in the U.S. in Dec. 2008 at the Cleveland Clinic. Before the surgery, Culp couldn't walk down the street without drawing stares, but the transplant has given her a new chance at life.

"I don't have little kids coming up saying, 'Eww, there's a monster,'" Culp said. "They think I'm amazing. I'm just normal, but we need more people like the donors to help people."

Until now, though, Culp knew little about the woman who provided her face. Doctors would tell her only the donor's age and nothing about the surviving family.

"They've never contacted me," Culp told ABC News this past August.

But two years after losing their beloved wife and mother, the family of donor Anna Kasper was finally ready to step forward. The Kasper family decided to break their silence and share their story, hoping to raise awareness for organ donation.

Two weeks before Christmas in 2008, Anna suffered a fatal heart attack.

Two years after the trauma of losing their loved one, the Kasper family decided that they wanted to meet Connie Culp, having seen her remarkable spirit in Culp's previous interviews.

After waiting and wondering for so long, they finally met this weekend with tears and hugs.

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ABC News Radio