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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The first person in America to get a face transplant was in Pittsburgh on Saturday to share her inspiring story.

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Connie Culp, from Steubenville, Ohio, was shot in the face by her husband in 2004.

She lost her nose, upper jaw and was nearly blinded. She had to have 30 plastic surgeries.

“They took a bunch of tests on me, made sure I was adequate to do the surgery,” Culp said.

In 2008, she received a face transplant — the first ever in the United States.

“I got skin grafts off my legs. They had to remove this bone, and they took the vein out of this to use to transfuse blood out of places,” Culp said. “I mean, I never thought I’d ever have to go through this.”

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Now, she inspires others with her story. She was in Pittsburgh on Saturday to speak to volunteers, recipients and donor families at the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE).

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“If they’re doing a seminar somewhere, they bring her there and let her speak,” Roy Parks, of Pittsburgh, said. “She’s really inspiring to a lot of people.”

“It gets tough when you’re out there in the community and people have misconceptions, it’s easy to just say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this again,'” Susan Stuart, CORE CEO, said, “but when you get to hear a story like Connie, it sure motivates you to say, ‘I want to go out there and I want to register as many people as I can.'”

A Pittsburgh-area non-profit called Face2Face Healing offers support groups and other services for individuals with disfigurements.

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