Connie Culp, first US partial face transplant recipient, dies at 57

Connie Culp, first US partial face transplant recipient, dies at 57”

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

Her husband Tom Culp (pictured with Connie) blasted a gun at her shattering her nose, cheeks, roof of her mouth and her right eye. Her strength was evident in the fact that she had been the longest-living face transplant patient to date, ' Dr Frank Papay, chair of the Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute said.

Connie Culp had already undergone 30 corrective surgeries before she received a face transplant at the Cleveland Clinic in Northeast Ohio. "She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity". Her husband, Thomas Culp, was trying to kill Connie and then himself.

Only his upper eyelids, forehead, lower lip, and chin remained.

He was later convicted of aggravated attempted murder and sentenced to seven years in prison. Since her surgery, about 40 other face transplants have been done around the world, with three taking place at the Cleveland Clinic.

In December 2008, Maria Siemionow led a team of doctors in a 22-hour operation to replace 80 per cent of Ms Culp's face with bone, muscles, nerves, skin and blood vessels from a donor, Anna Kasper. She was left partially blind, unable to smell and speak, and she had to rely on a surgical opening in her neck to breathe. She also had several skin grafts from her thighs.

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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.

After the surgery, even though Culp's expressions were a bit wooden and her speech was at times hard to understand, she was able to talk, smell, taste her food, and smile again. Hundreds of shotgun pellet fragments and bone splinters were embedded in his face.

"I've met probably 10 women that actually had a gun pointed at them", Culp told The Plain Dealer in a 2019 interview.

Culp told CNN that year that she was happy with the transplant.

She added, "I think it's more important that you focus on the donor family that made it so I could have this person's face".

After her strenuous recovery, Culp became an ardent domestic-violence speaker.

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