BOSTON -- A Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee gone berserk has received a new face in the third such operation performed in the United States and is looking forward to going out in public again and eating hot dogs and pizza after months of pureed food.
Charla Nash, 57, underwent a full face and double hand transplant late last month, but the hands failed to thrive because of complications and were removed, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, leader of the 30-member surgical team at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said Friday. Overall, her prospects are excellent, he said. "It will certainly help her tremendously to feel human again," Pomahac said.
In February 2009, she was attacked by a neighbor's 200-pound chimpanzee, named Travis, which went berserk after its owner asked Nash to help lure it back into her house. The animal ripped off Nash's hands, nose, lips and eyelids before being shot and killed by police.
More than two years later, Nash received skin, underlying muscles, blood vessels, nerves, a hard palate and teeth from a dead person whose identity was not released. In the next several months, she will develop more control over facial muscles and be able to breathe through her nose and develop her sense of smell. She remains blind.
She did not appear at a hospital news conference Friday, and no photographs of her after the surgery were released.
She will be able to go out in public without feeling self-conscious, Pomahac said. She skipped her only daughter's high school graduation last spring because she was worried she'd become the center of attention.
Nash's family is suing the estate of the chimp's owner, Sandra Herold, for $50 million and wants to sue the state for $150 million, saying officials failed to prevent the attack. Herold died last year of an aneurysm.
Kate Nash, her sister-in-law, said, "She's so happy about getting a face, so people won't say, 'Look at that lady with the veil.' "