Friday, June 10, 2011

Ape Attack Victim Gets Face Transplant

A Connecticut woman who was attacked by a 90-kg (200-lb) chimpanzee in 2009 has undergone a full face transplant, but still has a long road to recovery.

A team of 30 staff at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston spent more than 20 hours performing surgery on Charla Nash, 57.

The procedure included surgery to replace two hands Nash lost in the attack. But the hands have since had to be removed because they "failed to thrive", according to the hospital.

Nash underwent the surgery late last month but here have been a number of complications since and Nash only recently regained consciousness.

John Orr, a spokesman for the Nash family, told the Associated Press that Nash developed pneumonia and kidney failure which led to "circulation issues" with the hands.
Picture of the Victim after the Attack..........Viewer Discretion Advised
"She's been under, so to speak, since this whole thing began, and now she's just starting to wake up," he said.

Orr said he has not seen Nash, but is told by her brother, Stephen, that Nash looks "fantastic, in terms of the face."

Nash was mauled in February 2009, after Nash's friend, Sandra Herold, who owned the chimp, asked her to help lure it back into her house. For reasons still not understood, the animal attacked Nash, ripping off her hands, nose, lips and eyelids and blinding her.

The animal was eventually shot and killed by police.

Herold died last year of an aneurysm. Nash's family is suing her estate for US$50 million. They also plan to sue the state for $150 million, saying state officials failed to prevent the attack.

Since the attack, Nash has worn a straw hat with a veil to cover some of her injuries.

The simultaneous face and hands surgery has been done only once before, in France in 2009. That patient later died.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac told reporters Friday that he expected Nash would develop more feeling in her face and more control over facial muscles over the next several months. She should also be able to breathe through her nose soon and develop her sense of smell.

Doctors are not able to restore her sight, though.

Pomahac added that even though Nash's hand transplants failed, she could still undergo another hand transplant in the future. He said overall, Nash's recovery and future looked excellent.

"She will eventually be able to eat a hamburger, something she said was very important to her, having only had pureed food since her injury," he said.

Pomahac said Nash will soon be able to go out in public without feeling self-conscious. He said she had to skip her only daughter's high school graduation last spring because she was concerned that she would become the centre of attention.

"We know it broke her heart," Pomahac said, pausing to control his emotions. "I think her new face will allow Charla to be present when Briana graduates from college in a few short years."

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