Ohio woman Connie Culp, who became the first person in the U.S. to receive a partial face transplant after surviving a gunshot blast to the face, has died at the age of 57.
The Cleveland Clinic, where Culp underwent the historic surgical procedure in 2008, confirmed her death in a statement on Friday.
‘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,’ Dr Frank Papay, chair of the Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute said.
‘She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity.’
Her cause of death was not released.
Dr Papay, who was part of the team of surgeons who performed the grueling surgery on Culp 12 years ago, had been in charge of her care since, WKYC reports.
Culp was left severely disfigured in September 2004 after she was shot in the face by her husband, Tom Culp, in a botched murder-suicide attempt.
He shot her from eight feet way, blasting off her nose, cheeks, the roof of her mouth and an eye.
Only her forehead, chin, parts of her eyelids and her lower lip were left intact.
Tom Culp was convicted of attempted aggravated murder and was sentenced to only seven years in prison for the shooting.
Meanwhile, Connie received close to 30 corrective surgeries before finally undergoing the transplant in December 2008.
The Cleveland Clinic surgical team integrated functional facial components and various tissue types to come up with 77 square inches of transplanted tissue.
The tissue types included skin, muscles, bony structures, arteries, veins and nerves.