First US recipient of partial face transplant dead at 57

First U.S. face transplant patient dies

Camera IconConnie Culp before her face transplant operation.

Connie Culp, the first person to receive a face transplant in the US-after being shot by her husband-has died.

The transplant took 22 hours with 80 per cent of Ms Culp's face replaced, including bone, muscles, nerves, and skin from a woman who had recently died.

"Connie was an incredibly courageous vibrant woman and an inspiration to many", he said.

The blast destroyed her nose, shattered her cheeks and shut off most of her vision.

"Her strength was evident in the fact that she had been the longest-living face transplant patient to date".

The cause of Ms Culp's death has not yet been reported.

In 2004, Thomas Culp, shot Connie, his wife and the mother of their two children, in a murder-suicide attempt before turning the gun on himself. "She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity".

The Cleveland Clinic- where the face transplant operation took place- said that Culp died on Wednesday, July 29, at the clinic due to an infection that was unrelated to the transplant. Since her surgery, about 40 other face transplants have been done around the world, with three taking place at the Cleveland Clinic.

Tom Culp was convicted of attempted aggravated murder and was sentenced to only seven years in prison for the shooting. The woman had no nose and no palate, she could not eat, and only through a hole in the trachea to breathe.

After the intervention, this woman, mother of two children, dedicated herself to offering talks on domestic violence and to support others who also had face transplants, such as Charla Nash, a CT citizen who was mutilated by a pet chimpanzee.

She had 30 operations in a bid by plastic surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic to remove hundreds of shotgun pellets and bone splinters from her face.

Two years later, Culp met the family of her donor.

Ms Culp made several television appearances and became an advocate for organ donation. Culp told The Cleveland Plain Dealer: 'They're just really nice people'.

"I think I'm the one you came to see today", Culp told reporters during a press conference to reveal his new face. "I know she's smiling down on this, that she's very happy".



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