Oprah Winfrey Interviews Chimp Attack Victim; Woman Unveils Disfigured Face

Charla Nash says she wears a veil so as not to frighten anyone.

ByABC News via logo
November 11, 2009, 10:58 AM

Nov. 12, 2009— -- The woman whose face was disfigured after she was attacked by her friend's pet chimpanzee told Oprah Winfrey that she tries not to remember the incident.

"I don't want to remember because I couldn't imagine what it was like. ... I don't want to wake up with nightmares," Charla Nash said of the Feb. 16 attack by Travis, the 200-pound chimp owned by her friend and employer, Sandra Herold.

Herold had called Nash to her Stamford, Conn., home that morning to help get Travis back in his cage.

Nash, who turned 56 Tuesday, also told Winfrey on the show that aired Wednesday that she hoped her story would serve as a warning to others.

"These exotic animals are very dangerous and they shouldn't be around," she said in the interview during which she removed a dark veil and revealed that her face was missing eyes, her nose and lips. "There's a place for them that is not in residential areas."

Nash, who wakes up every day in a hospital room at the Cleveland clinic where doctors change her bandages daily, told Winfrey she rarely touches her face to avoid knowing the full extent of her injuries.

"I don't ask a whole lot about my injuries. I know that I have my forehead," she said.

Nash underwent several surgeries. Doctors used part of her leg to construct a new nose. They also rebuilt her tongue and cut a small hole in her face so she can eat.

They also removed her eyes.

Now, Nash must drink her meals with a straw though a small hole where her mouth used to be. She said she longs for the day when she might be able to eat "a hot dog or piece of pizza."

CLICK HERE to see Charla Nash's uncovered face.

Despite her injuries, Nash seemed remarkably upbeat. She said she has no pain, was not angry and was ready to move on with her life rather than dwell on that day.

"I'm the same person I've always been," she said. "I just look different. There are things that happen in life you can't change.

"I don't think about it [the attack]. There's no time for that because I need to heal, you know, not look backwards."