Aug. 3, 2020 — The first U.S. patient to receive a partial face transplant, Connie Culp, died at 57, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Her death comes nearly 12 years after her surgery and after her husband shot her in the face in a murder-suicide attempt in 2004. Culp’s husband spent seven years behind bars.
The shotgun blast destroyed her nose, her cheeks and she lost most of her vision. Her face was so grotesque that kids called her a monster, the AP reported.
Culp had 30 operations to fix her face, which left her unable to eat solid food, breathe on her own, or smell.
In December 2008, she underwent a 22-hour operation to replace 80% of her face with material from a donor, Anna Kasper. This was the fourth face transplant in the world, though the others were not as extensive.
Her surgery was performed at the Cleveland Clinic, where she died Wednesday from complications from an infection not related to the transplant, the AP. said.
Dr. Frank Papay, chair of Cleveland Clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery institute and part of Culp’s surgical team, said in a statement that she 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.”