Connie Culp, First Person to Receive a Face Transplant in the US, Dies at 57 –– What Happened?

Cleveland Clinic's Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute confirmed that Connie Culp, who was the first person in the United States to undergo a face transplant has died.

On July 29, 2020, Connie Culp died. She was the first patient in the United States to successfully undergo a face transplant. She was 57-years-old. The cause of her death has not been made public.

Cleveland Clinic's Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute confirmed the news on Twitter as they praised Culp for her contribution to the medical community.

Dr. Frank Papay, who was one of the members of the medical team that worked with Culp during her groundbreaking surgery in 2008, paid tribute to her in a heartfelt message. 

The doctor called her an inspiration and reflected on her bravery, describing her as a vibrant woman.

Connie Culp poses at a local park in Wintersville, Ohio on May 11, 2011 | Source: Laurentiu Garofeanu / Barcroft U / Getty Images

Connie Culp poses at a local park in Wintersville, Ohio on May 11, 2011 | Source: Laurentiu Garofeanu / Barcroft U / Getty Images

In 2004 Culp's face was disfigured and she was left unable to eat or breathe on her own after her husband, Thomas Culp shot her in the face. He was jailed for seven years for the attack. She used her experience to speak about domestic violence.

Culp met the family of her donor in 2010. She was a woman named Anna Kasper.

A team of eight surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic performed a 22-hour-operation to replace almost 80% of her face.

The organs used to reconstruct her face were all provided by one donor. These included her upper lip, nose, palate, and front teeth. She was also given a prosthetic eye.

In 2011, Culp told People that her new face gave her a sense of strength and helped her feel more positive about who was after the shooting.

In Dr. Papay's tribute to Culp, he praised her for agreeing to undergo the surgery and said it showed her strength. He said:

"She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity." 

According to CNN, Culp's medical team noted that her surgery was not a cosmetic procedure. They revealed that is was a necessary surgery that they performed to help restore some of her essential bodily functions.

Culp met the family of her donor in 2010. She was a woman named Anna Kasper. Anna's husband, Ron Kasper told a newspaper that he agreed to the surgery because he knew it was what his wife would have wanted.

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