NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Charla Nash, the Stamford, Connecticut woman whose face was destroyed when Sandra Herold’s pet chimp went berserk, has received a face transplant.
The surgery was performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in late May.
Doctors also attempted to perform a double hand transplant on Nash, but unfortunately they had to be removed.
Nash spokesman John Orr said the 20-hour surgery was followed by an ordeal.
WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau With Comment From Surgeon Dr. Elof Eriksson
“She developed pneumonia, she had kidney failure, she had the circulation issue with her hands,” Orr said.
Nash is only just starting to wake up and is unaware that she has lost her hands, Orr said. Orr said he has not seen Nash, but is told by her brother, Stephen, that Nash looks “fantastic, in terms of the face.”
Orr said the donor’s identity has been kept secret, but was a “fairly consistent match” for Nash. The donor can be as much as 20 years younger or up to 10 years older than the recipient and must have the same blood type and similar skin color and texture.
“She’s not aware of the hands, that she lost them,” he said. “She’s still groggy. She’s acknowledging with a nod that someone is there, but she still has pneumonia issues. The kidneys are back working, but she isn’t aware of too much yet.”
In 2009, Herold’s 200-pound pet chimp Travis attacked Nash as she was trying to lure it back into Herold’s house. It tore her face apart and left her blinded. Police shot the chimp dead.
Nash’s family is suing Herold’s estate for $50 million and is planning on suing the state of Connecticut for $150 million for not enforcing laws regulating the keeping of large animals as pets.
Nash is one of roughly a dozen recipients of face transplants worldwide.