In 2005, the Cleveland Clinic became the first US hospital to approve the procedure. In December 2008, a team at the Cleveland Clinic, led by Pole Maria Siemionow and including a group of supporting doctors and six plastic surgeons (Steven Bernard, Dr Mark Hendrickson, Robert Lohman, Dan Alam and Francis Papay) performed the first face transplant in the US on a woman named Connie Culp. It was the world's first near-total facial transplant and the fourth known facial transplant to have been successfully performed to date. This operation was the first facial transplant known to have included bones, along with muscle, skin, blood vessels, and nerves. The woman received a nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw, and even some teeth from a brain-dead donor. As doctors recovered the donor's facial tissue, they paid special attention to maintaining arteries, veins, and nerves, as well as soft tissue and bony structures. The surgeons then connected facial graft vessels to the patient's blood vessels in order to restore blood circulation in the reconstructed face before connecting arteries, veins and nerves in the 22-hour procedure. She had been disfigured to the point where she could not eat or breathe on her own as a result of a traumatic injury several years ago, which had left her without a nose, right eye and upper jaw. Doctors hoped the operation would allow her to regain her sense of smell and ability to smile, and said she had a "clear understanding" of the risks involved.