Lifestyle & Belief

Chimp attack woman gets new face, spikes interest in facial transplants


Charla Nash, before and after. The undated photo on the right shows Nash after having received a full face transplant in May 2011 (Photo: Brigham and Women's Hospital / Reuters)

Are those pictures real?

The question is being asked with the release of dramatic before-and-after images of Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee and the latest person to receive a face transplant, WebMD reported.

The new face of Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who was mauled two years ago, was revealed for the first time on Thursday, NBC reported.

Nash is still recovering from the grueling 20-hour surgical marathon by a team of more than 30 doctors and nurses. An attempt to give her a pair of new hands failed, and the transplanted hands were removed.

Some 17 people in the world now have undergone the experimental and still misunderstood procedure, says Maria Siemionow, MD, PhD, director of plastic surgery research at the Cleveland Clinic.

In 2009, Nash, 57, was helping a friend's pet chimp, Travis, inside when the 200-pound animal ripped off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot and killed by police.

Since the attack, Nash wore a straw hat with a veil to cover her injuries, but revealed her mangled face on a November 2009 episode of "Oprah."

Nash, who was initially under the care of Cleveland Clinic surgeons, eventually received the transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She is still recovering from complications of surgery, but issued a dramatic statement thanking her doctors and the anonymous deceased woman who donated her face.

"I will now be able to do things I once took for granted," Nash said in the statement, CNN reported. "I will be able to smell. I will be able to eat normally. 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."