Culp died Wednesday of complications from an illness unrelated to her transplant, Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Andrea Pacetti told CNN. “Connie was a very courageous, lively lady and an inspiration for many,” stated Dr. Frank Papay, seat of Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute, that had been a part of Connie’s surgical group. “Her strength has been evident from the fact that she was the longest-living face transplant patient up to now,” Papay stated in an announcement. “She had been a fantastic pioneer and her choice to experience a sometimes daunting process is a lasting present for all of humanity.” Culp dropped the mid-portion of her face after being taken by her husband in 2004. The Ohio mother of 2 was left partly blind, not able to odor and talk, and she needed to rely upon a surgical opening in her neck . Back in December 2008, she failed a 22-hour transplant operation directed by Dr. Maria Siemionow, where the head of a dead donor was formed and fitted into Culp. Length of tissue, bone, bone and blood vessels, nerve grafts, veins and arteries were linked, and physicians filled in the missing portions of the face. It was the very first near-total face transplant in the nation. At the moment, physicians involved in Culp’s remedy highlighted that operation wasn’t decorative, but to restore fundamental functions. In 2010, Culp fulfilled the family of her donor, Anna Kasper of Lakewood, Ohio. Kasper’s widower, Ron Kasper, told The Plain Dealer the household agreed to give her encounter for Culp’s operation, telling the paper that “the predominant factor was we understood that it was what Anna would have wanted.” Culp told CNN that she had been pleased with the transplant. “I will smell today,” she explained. “I will eat beef; I will eat just about any solid foods — so it’s all getting better.” Culp became the advocate of organ donation and delivered speeches about her own experience.