Connie Culp, 57, died today at the age of 57, the first person to receive a partial face transplant in the United States.
The revolutionary operation took place in December 2008 – according to the medical team, the death was caused by an infection unrelated to the transplant.
“She was a great pioneer, and her decision to undergo an intimidating procedure is an eternal gift for all of humanity,” doctor Frank Papay, a member of the team who performed the transplant, told The Associated Press.
In 2004, Connie Culp’s husband shot him in the face in an assassination attempt followed by suicide. He spent seven years in prison, and the woman had a broken nose and jaw. She also lost most of her vision.
Even after 30 surgeries, she was unable to eat solid foods, breathe autonomously or smell smells. Upon seeing her features, children ran and called her “monster”.
The implantation of the “new” face lasted 22 hours. It was the fourth partial transplant in the world, and the largest so far: 80% of her face was replaced with bones, muscles, nerves, skin and blood vessels from donor Anna Kasper, who died after a heart attack.
Connie Culp’s experience paved the way for the first total face transplant, which took place two years later in the United States.
*With Associated Press information