Connie Culp, the first person to receive a face transplant in the US, has died

Connie Culp, first person to undergo face transplant surgery in the US (Photo: CNN)

Connie Culp, the first person in the US to receive a face transplant, has died. She was 57-years-old. She died on Wednesday (July 29) of complications from an infection unrelated to her transplant, Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Andrea Pacetti said.

In 2004, Connie Culp lost the mid-portion of her face after being shot by her husband. Four years later, she underwent a 22-hour transplant surgery led by Dr Maria Siemionow, in which the face of a deceased donor was shaped and fitted to Culp.

Layers of tissue, bone, muscle and blood vessels, nerve grafts, arteries, and veins were connected, and doctors filled in the missing parts of her face.  

“Her strength was evident in the fact that she had been the longest-living face transplant patient to date,” Papay said in a statement. “She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity.”