Charla Nash: New Face of Chimpanzee Attack Victim Revealed

Charla Nash received a full face transplant in May.

ByABC News
August 11, 2011, 1:46 PM

Aug. 11, 2011— -- The new face of Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee two years ago, was revealed for the first time today.

The photos of Nash were first shown on NBC's "Today" show Thursday morning and were later released by Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, where the surgery was performed in late May.

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.

During a press conference in June, Nash's brother Steve choked up while thanking the donor's family.

"Your incredible gift to Charla is generous and kind beyond words," he said. "Thank you for your precious gift and God bless you."

Face Transplants Throught the Years

Nash, 57, was helping her friendSandra 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.

Since the 2009 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."

"Charla didn't attend her daughter Brianna's high school graduation because she thought her presence would take away from the day," said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston, during the press conference in June. "I think her new face will allow Charla to be present when Brianna graduates from college in a few years."

Steve Nash said the results of the transplant were "amazing to see."

He also said that before the transplant, Nash had to eat pureed food through a straw. Now, she will be able to eat and is looking forward to a trip to the family's hot dog stand in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Nash desperately wanted a simultaneous face and hand transplant -- a procedure that has been done only once before in France, and that patient later died. The procedure is complicated because of the precision and coordination necessary, and the increased risk of complications. Nash developed pneumonia and kidney failure after the transplant, which hampered circulation to the hands.

The hands and face both came from the same donor, but the hand transplant failed and they had to be removed, the doctors said. But Pomahac said the team "could transplant the hands again should a suitable donor be identified."

Face Transplant for Chimp Attack Victim Charla Nash

Nash is the third person to undergo a face transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dallas Wiens received the nation's first face transplant patient there in March.

Nash has no memory of the morning Herold called her to help get Travis back in his cage, she told Winfrey.

"I don't remember anything and they told the doctor that I don't want to remember," she said.

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!"