Several years ago when I was studying abroad in Singapore, I happened to be walking out of the bathroom of a public restaurant when I bumped into an Indian man who had white, irregular blotches on his entire face and body.

It all happened so quickly, and my immediate reaction was to close my eyes and recoil in fear. I remember feeling guilty for the rest of the night, wondering about the other unkind reactions this man faced anytime he stepped foot in public.

Just today, a 48-year-old woman named Connie Culp unveiled herself for the first time in the public spotlight as the nation's first face transplant patient. Five years ago, after her husband shot her in the face before shooting himself, the entire midsection of Connie's face was completely destroyed. She had no nose, and she relied on a tube in her windpipe to properly breathe.

As a result of her recent operation, Connie can now smell and taste her food again, in addition to having a chance at a more normal public life.

Unlike most people who have one face throughout their entire lives, Connie Culp has already had three faces: the face of the attractive, married brunette before the accident; the noseless, disfigured face of domestic violence; and now, the slightly bloated face with nose and skin that was all donated from a recently deceased woman.

And yet, underneath it all, I also see a fourth face that is perhaps the least interesting in the eyes of the media: the inner face of a strong, compassionate soul that hasn't changed. The hidden face who humbly asks the public to deflect the attention away from her and focus instead on the generosity of the donor family that made her new life possible.

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