CLEVELAND — Connie Culp, the first recipient of a partial face transplant in the U.S., has died at age 57, the Cleveland Clinic confirmed Thursday.
Dr. Frank Papay, chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute, who was also part of her surgical team, confirmed Culp's death in a statement.
“Connie was an incredibly brave, vibrant woman and an inspiration to many. Her strength was evident in the fact that she had been the longest-living face transplant patient to date. She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity,” Papay said in his statement.
Culp made history in 2008 when she became the first patient in the U.S. to receive a face transplant.
At the time of the surgery, 40-year-old Culp underwent an initial 22-hour procedure after her husband shot her in the face.
A Cleveland Clinic surgical team integrated functional facial components and numerous tissue types, including skin, muscles, bony structures, arteries, veins and nerves – encompassing about 77 square inches of transplanted tissue.
Her cause of death is currently unknown.
This story was originally published by Kaylyn Hlavaty on WEWS in Cleveland.