A perfect match.
Anna Kasper, who took care of nursing home patients, delivered pizza and cleaned offices, had a warm giving personality.
Connie Culp, (Seen on the right.) who waited tables and painted restaurants and shared her time and good will with people before a tragedy nearly took her life. Connie has became the recipient of the first successful near-total face transplant in the United States.
She rose above life’s challenges, and kept her sense of humor no matter how rough things got. This gift has helped her recover.
In a groundbreaking transplant Cleveland Clinic doctors performed a face transplant in 2008.
Anna Kasper’s family made the announcement to give Anna her place in medical history.
Connie’s life after her surgery.
“Connie’s like Anna in a lot of ways,” says Ron Kasper, Anna’s husband, “…enjoyes life, smiles lots and has a great attitude even after everything she’s been through.
Saturday the two families met for the first time.
It was great how much the two clans had in common.
Both are very nice people.
Ron and his son remodel homes and paint for a living.
Connie Culp and her husband had a painting business and remodeled their home together.
The Kaspers had a grandchild who was about a year old at the time of the transplant.
Connie did, too.
The two women were born 14 months apart.
Their skin color is incredibly similar.
Their blood type, identical.
It was Ron and the couple’s three children who agreed to donate Anna’s face back in December 2008, the day after Anna collapsed and died on her back porch.
Their son, Ronald, now 21, found Anna slumped over at the bottom of the back steps she was purple. Paramedics revived her on the way to Lakewood Hospital, but tests showed what the family already knew. The 44-year-old woman was brain dead.
The family folowed Anna’s wishes.
In life she shared her time, money and many things with other people. In death her organs and tissues continue to give life to others.
However, no one was prepared for the call from a specialist from the Cleveland Clinic, who called the house to ask for Anna’s face. The family only took minutes to agree.
Anna wished to be cremated, so there wasn’t going to be an open casket. And that Anna was already an organ donor and her face bones, muscles and other tissues were a perfect match. This was a miracle in itself.
“But the overriding factor was we knew it was what Anna would’ve wanted,” says Ron, his voice breaking as he fights back tears.
“My mom would say, ‘Hell if I can’t use it and somebody else can, they can have it,’ ” Becky says.
No doubt Connie needed a face. In 2004 her common-law husband shot her in in the face, Connie was so disfigured, children ran from her and called her a monster.
Her nose was missing. So was her right eye, her lower eyelids, her upper lip, her top teeth. She had to breathe through a hole in her throat and eat through a tube. Most of her vision was gone.
On Dec. 10, 2008, surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic spent 23 hours removing skin and muscle, veins and arteries, teeth and bone from Anna and sewing them onto what remained of Connie Culp’s face, surgery that changed her life.
Connie, 47, has been thanking her donor from the moment she stepped out on the public stage in 2009, never able to name her because she didn’t know who she was.
Today she can.
Neil Lantzy, Cleveland ClinicBecky Kasper hugs Connie Culp after meeting her for the first time Saturday. Becky, her brother, sister and father agreed to donate her mother’s face to Connie after Anna Kasper died of a heart attack.
Connie doesn’t look like Anna because their bone structure is different.
“But I can definitely see the resemblance in the nose,” Becky says. “I know she’s smiling down on this, that she’s very happy.”
More than 50 people benefited from Anna’s donated organs and tissue.
People Helping People
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