Connie Culp, the first US recipient of a partial face transplant, has died at age 57, according to Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, where she underwent the delicate operation nearly 12 years ago.
Culp the mother of two was grievously wounded in 2004 when her husband shot her and then turned the gun on himself. The gun blast shattered Culp’s nose and cheeks, the roof of her mouth and her right eye. His wounds were far less extensive than hers, and he was later jailed for seven years over the attack.
“Her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all humanity,” added Papay, head of the clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery institute.
Culp had 30 surgeries before undergoing transplant surgery in 2008 at the Cleveland Clinic, an intensely complex procedure that took 22 hours over two days.
The health centre listed no cause of death in its tweet on Friday, quoting one of her doctors, Frank Papay, as saying she was a “great pioneer.”