Ohio woman who underwent first face transplant surgery in US has died

U.S.

Connie Culp, who underwent the first face transplant surgery in the U.S. talks with the Associated Press at the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010 in Cleveland. The woman who had the nation’s first face transplant is asking Ohioans to register as organ donors. (AP Photo/Jason Miller)

CHICAGO (News Nation/WJW) — Connie Culp, the woman who underwent the first near-total face transplant surgery in the United States at the Cleveland Clinic, has died.

The Clinic confirmed the news to News Nation affiliate WJW Thursday evening.

Frank Papay, M.D., chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute, released the following statement:

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

Papay was part of Culp’s surgical team and has led her care since she first went to the Cleveland Clinic more than 12 years ago.

In 2008, doctors at the Clinic performed the initial 22-hour procedure on Culp, who suffered severe facial injuries from a gunshot to the face.

Culp, of Hopedale, Ohio, showed her new face in 2009.

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