The first image of Charla Nash whose face was torn off by her neighbor’s enraged pet chimpanzee two years ago was released Thursday. Brigham and Women’s Hospital released the photo of the recipient of a full face transplant at the facility in May.
Nash also received a hand transplant, but they had to be removed after she contracted pneumonia.
The Stamford, Connecticut woman was attacked in February 2009 by a 200-pound chimp that ripped off her nose, lips, eyelids, and hands, and left her blind.
For two years, she has hidden her face. While on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2009, Nash hid under a veil while describing the attack. The surgery will hopefully give Nash as close to a normal life as possible in the circumstances.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital released a statement from Nash that included, “I will no longer be disfigured. I will have lips and will speak clearly once again. I will be able to kiss and hug loved ones. I am tremendously grateful to the donor and her family.”
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac led the plastic and orthopedic surgery Brigham and Women’s Hospital that performed the transplant on Nash, The Boston Channel reported.
Pomahac said that despite Nash’s hand transplant failing, he feels assured that doctors could attempt a transplant again when a suitable donor is identified.
Nash said, “Losing the new hands is just a bump in the road of my recovery. I believe that one day I’ll have two hands to help me live as a blind person with confidence.”
Nash was featured on the “Today” show on Thursday to show off her new face, which has greatly improved her appearance. She was still too weak to speak to the camera, so her daughter and husband spoke with Ann Curry, and reported that Nash could smell and taste again. She enjoyed her first solid meal in over two years following the surgery - eggs and cream cheese.
“Since February 16, 2009, I have been blessed to be in the care of many incredible doctors, nurses, and caregivers. These professionals first saved my life, then healed my wounds and strengthened me to face an uncertain future…,” said Nash in her statement. “Thank you everyone who has helped me for these last two and a half years.”