New face of chimpanzee attack victim revealed

Charla Nash after a full face transplant in May 2011. Photo by Lightchaser Photography.

August 11, 2011 2:37:20 PM PDT
The new face of a woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee two years ago has been revealed for the first time in photos showing a startling transformation.

Charla Nash had a face transplant in May at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The 57-year-old Nash was attacked in Stamford, Conneticut in February 2009 by a friend's 200-pound chimpanzee, which ripped off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands. The attack left her blind.

Nash says in a statement she's looking forward to doing things she once took for granted, including being able to smell, eat normally, speak clearly and kiss loved ones.

"These transplants could not have been possible without the generosity of a family unknown to me. They gave me a face and hands. I will now be able to do things I once took for granted," she said.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac led the team of more than 30 physicians, nurses and anesthesiologists in the full face transplant procedure, at the time the third full face transplant in three months at BWH.

"It's wonderful to see how Charla's recovery has progressed as she continues taking steps toward her new life," said Dr. Pomahac, who is director of the BWH Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program.

Nash's family is suing the estate of the chimpanzee's owner, Sandra Herold, for $50 million and wants to sue the state for $150 million, claiming officials failed to prevent the attack. Herold died last year of an aneurysm.

Nash's brother, Steve Nash, told The Associated Press that his sister has maintained a positive outlook since the mauling, and the family hopes she can get the double hand transplant in about six months. She also has only a top row of teeth and doctors are planning to install a lower row soon, he said.

"It's brought my sister to a better quality of life. It makes you feel good, and we're very thankful," Steve Nash said about the face transplant. "She's preparing the best she can to be a blind person."