Connie Culp, the first US face transplant recipient, has died of an infection 12 years after her groundbreaking operation
- Connie Culp, the first patient in the US to receive a partial
face transplant, died July 29 of an unrelated infection, according to the Associated Press.
- The ground-breaking surgery was performed in 2008 at the Cleveland Clinic — Culp had previously had more than 30 surgeries after her husband shot her in the face in 2004 in an attempted murder.
medicalteam took 22 hours to replace 80% of Culp's face, after which she was able to talk, smile, and enjoy food again. The surgery was the fourth of its kind in the world.
Connie Culp, the first patient in the US to successfully undergo a partial face transplant, has died at age 57, 12 years after the groundbreaking surgery, of an unrelated complication, according to the Associated Press.
Culp was the longest-living recipient of a facial transplant to date. There have been approximately 40 such procedures completed worldwide, according to Cleveland Clinic. The second-longest living transplant patient was Isabelle Dinoire, a French woman who underwent the world's first partial face transplant in 2005 and died of cancer in 2016, in part because of immunosuppressant medications, CNN reported.Culp's transplant was performed in 2008 at Cleveland Clinic, four years after her husband shot her in the face with a shotgun during an attempted murder-suicide. Despite 30 more minor surgeries to repair the damage, Culp was unable to breathe on her own, smell, or eat solid food.
Soon after, Culp was able to smile, talk, breathe, and enjoy food, although she did not fully regain her expressiveness and her speech was sometimes difficult to understand. It was in 2011, following subsequent operations, that doctors said Culp had "a normal face," according to the Associated Press.Culp went on to become an advocate for organ donors, appearing on TV news interviews about her experience. In 2010, she also met the family of donor Anna Kasper, who died of a heart attack, and thanked them.
"She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity," Dr. Frank Papay, chair of Cleveland Clinic's dermatology and plastic surgery institute and Culp's surgical team, told the Associated Press.Patients of face transplants have to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent their body from rejecting the donor tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. A side effect of these drugs is increased risk of infection and illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and kidney problems. Read more:
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