Exclusive: Chimp attack victim interview, Part 2

February 28, 2012 3:20:05 PM PST
There's more information on Eyewitness News' exclusive new interview with the Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee three years ago.

Charla Nash, who lost most of her face and hands, received a face transplant last spring.

She recently sat down with investigative reporter Sarah Wallace for a very personal interview.

Charla Nash simply refused to die; she told Wallace that she woke up from a coma three months after the attack when she heard a doctor telling her brother to make final arrangements.

Now, she's refusing to let her multiple handicaps hold her back.

"Cheeks, I can feel, yeah," Nash said.

Charla Nash can't see her new face, she's blind, but she's starting to feel it.

It's the miracle her doctors had hoped for last spring in Boston when they transplanted a donor face onto the ravaged shell that was left of hers after an attack by a friend's chimpanzee.

"Do you wish you could see yourself?" Wallace asked.

"I wouldn't mind seeing what I look like, but I know I can't and I'm accepting it," Nash said.

It's quite a difference from the pre-transplant victim who appeared on "Oprah".

When she spoke with Wallace, she no longer even wore a scarf to hide the horrific scars left on her scalp.

"He actually left holes in your scalp with his teeth," Wallace said.

"Yeah," Nash said, "He ate my nose and my mouth."

The 200 pound Chimp, Travis, also ate her hands, leaving just a thumb.

Although she received donor hands along with her transplanted face, doctors had to remove the hands when Nash developed complications.

She's now rebuilding her stamina and strength at a rehabilitation facility outside of Boston so she can try again for the transplanted hands.

"Are there days when you think I just can't keep going?" Wallace asked.

"No, there are days I get exhausted and I don't do as much but I don't give up," Nash said.

"But you don't feel sorry for yourself," Wallace said.

"No, no, you can't do it," Nash said.

Nash says she doesn't remember the attack, but says she never trusted the chimp her friend, Sandra Herrold, who died in 2010, raised in her home.

"What was their relationship?" Wallace asked.

"I don't know if he was her child. He would eat better than your or I or most people. He got takeout food from restaurants," Nash said, "He loved wine and she would give him a glass of wine every night."

"Travis slept in the bed?" Wallace asked.

"Always, ever since he was little," Nash answered.

"And that was pretty bizarre," Wallace said.

"Yeah, I thought so," Nash replied.

Nash is now suing the state of Connecticut for $150 million, claiming authorities knew Travis posed a danger but did nothing. He famously caused chaos in downtown Stamford in 2003, and a state employee later noted in this memo, "It is an accident waiting to happen."

"Forget $150 million. For a billion dollars would you trade the situation for what she's enduring?" said Ara Chekmayan, a family spokesman.

"My life will never be the same," Nash said.

But there are victories. Nash's brother notices how her donor face is slowly becoming hers.

"Every time I come I notice a difference, the coloring is better, you can see the definition, much better than two weeks ago, even," said Steven Nash, Charla's brother.

But the reality is Nash will need long term care.

In Connecticut, a single man, The Claims Commissioner, has the power to decide if a lawsuit can go forward.

If he rules against Charlie's lawsuit, she would have to appeal to the state legislature.

That decision could come at any time.


If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com.

Follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimhoffer.wabc

Follow Sarah Wallace on Twitter at twitter.com/swinvestigates and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sarahwallace.wabc

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