Charla Nash Talks Chimp Attack, Recovery

Feb 28, 2012 12:05pm

Charla Nash is battling the seemingly impossible — a life with no hands, blind and still in recovery from a face transplant after being mauled by a chimpanzee nearly three years ago.

But Nash, 58, says though she doesn’t look it, she’s the same person inside as she was before the near-fatal attack.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing what I look like,” Nash told WABC reporter Sarah Wallace in an exclusive interview.

The Connecticut woman underwent a face transplant at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital last May and is still recovering from the procedure at a rehabilitation center outside of Boston.

The 20-hour surgical marathon was performed 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. Nash told Wallace that she would like to also receive a hand transplant.

Nash said she doesn’t remember the day of the attack, but she always avoided her friend Sandra Herold’s pet chimp named Travis. Nash said that she was previously attacked by Travis and was scared of him.

“He ripped a whole hunk of hair in the back of my head and I was crying,” said Nash.

But Nash said that Herold thought of the chimp like her own child.

“He ate better than you and I eat, and most people,” said Nash. “He had a lot of takeout food from restaurants and he loved wine. And she used to give him a glass of wine every night.”

Travis the chimp also allegedly slept in the same bed as Harold. Nash was helping Herold lure her pet chimp Travis inside when the 200-pound animal ripped off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot and killed by police.

Nash said she is suing the state of Connecticut, claiming that the authorities knew the chimp was a risk but did nothing to stop him. In 2003, police reeled in Travis once, after he was spotted running through the streets of downtown Stamford, Conn.

Herold’s 911 call offered a haunting description of the violent attack. Herold can be heard screaming that Travis had killed her friend and was “eating her.”

“The chimp killed my friend,” Herold screamed. “Send the police with a gun. With a gun!”

The dispatcher later asks, “Who’s killing your friend?”

“My chimpanzee,” she cries. “He ripped her apart! Shoot him, shoot him!”

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