The woman who had the nation's first face transplant says it was the smell of soap that made her realize her new face was working.
Connie Culp also says she still thinks about how she looked before her husband shot her in a failed murder-suicide in 2004.
In an interview Friday with ABC's "Good Morning America," the 46-year-old Unionport, Ohio, woman said she forgives her husband, who went to prison for seven years. The blast shattered her nose, cheeks, the roof of her mouth and an eye.
Culp says she now feels great walking down the street.
She came forward this week at a news conference at the Cleveland Clinic, where doctors in December replaced 80 percent of her face with bone, muscles, nerves, skin and blood vessels from a woman who had died. Prior to the transplant, Culp had endured 30 operations to try to fix her face. Doctors took parts of her ribs to make cheekbones and fashioned an upper jaw from one of her leg bones. She had countless skin grafts from her thighs. Still, she was unable to eat solid food, breathe on her own, or smell.
It was the fourth face transplant in the world, though the others were not as extensive. In April, doctors at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston performed the nation’s second face transplant, on a man disfigured in a freak accident. The first, in 2005, was performed in France on Isabelle Dinoire, a woman who had been mauled by her dog.