Connie Culp, the gunshot victim who underwent the first face transplant in the U.S., is now able to smell, taste food and breathe through her nose, her surgeons reported in the November/December issue of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.

Almost a year after the surgery, performed at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic, blood vessels from the transplanted tissue have integrated with existing tissue and she has had no significant complications, HealthDay News reported.

Culp is also speaking better and has regained her sensory and motor abilities, according to the report.

"This really does open up new frontiers both for transplanting more of the face and for offering it to individuals with previous reconstructive failures," said Dr. Wayne Larrabee Jr., a clinical professor of head and neck surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle and editor of the journal.

Connie Culp was shot in the face by her husband in a failed murder-suicide attempt in 2004. The shotgun blast left her horribly disfigured and blind. It also destroyed her nose, jaw and cheeks.

Culp is a mother and grandmother from Unionport, Ohio.

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