Victim of Chimp Attack Discharged from Hospital

Charla Nash to undergo extensive rehabilitation, possibly more surgery

ByRussell Goldman
November 11, 2009, 10:58 AM

May 7, 2010— -- A Connecticut woman whose face was left virtually featureless after she was mauled by a friend's chimpanzee has been discharged from the Cleveland Clinic and will move to a Boston-area assisted living center where she will continue to undergo therapy, her lawyer told

Charla Nash, 56, took a private plane Thursday to Boston to an assisted-living residence where she will undergo physical and occupational therapy to "learn skills that will hopefully allow her to be independent," said William Monaco, Nash's attorney.

Nash was attacked in November 2009, when her friend and employer, Sandra Herold, asked for help luring her 200-pound ape, Travis, back into the room-sized cage she kept in her suburban home.

After the near-fatal attack, Nash was transferred to the Cleveland, Ohio hospital where she underwent several reconstructive surgeries.

"Ms. Charla Nash has made great progress in her recovery. She is doing well and has been discharged from the Cleveland Clinic," the hospital said in a statement. "Throughout her stay she has touched the lives of many of our employees; we wish Charla and her family all the best."

Nash lost most of both hands, but had a thumb surgically replaced on her left hand. Doctors removed her eyes and grafted a piece of her leg where her nose used to be.

She has a small slit where her mouth once was. Through it, she takes all her meals by straw.

"She's doing a little bit better," said Monaco. "She still has challenges and still must take food by liquid or pureed. She is at a stage where she is stable, but still has physical issues."

"I'm not a candidate for a hand transplant because I have no eyesight. I hope somewhere along the way to get a face transplant and get a hand transplant at the same time," Nash told Oprah Winfrey in November 2009, her first interview since the attack.

Nash said she does not remember anything about the morning when Herold called her to help get Travis back in his cage.

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

But the 911 calls Herold made describe a chilling scene. On the recordings, Herold can be heard screaming that the ape had killed her friend and was "eating her!"

The chimp killed my friend!" says a sobbing Herold on the tapes. "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!"

Paramedics responding to a 911 call said they found pieces of Nash's fingers strewn on the floor. They said her hands looked as though they had been through a meat grinder.

"The monkey had ripped off her entire upper jaw, had ripped off her nose, which was hanging by a thread," said Dr. Kevin Miller, who treated Nash when she was taken to the emergency room. "We found extensive dirt, chimp fur, and chimp teeth implanted in her bone."

Nash has filed a civil suit against Herold seeking $50 million in damages for pain and suffering. The chimp's owner claims that Nash was her employee at the time of the attack and is entitled only to file a workman's compensation claim, which would greatly limit the amount of money she could receive.

Monaco said the lawsuit he filed against Herald is progressing, but "the wheels of justice turn slowly."

He said he did not know when the case would go to court, but it was possible Nash would testify.

"It remains to be seen if she'll testify," Monaco said. "she does not remember much about the attack, but her testimony about her life since then will be key."

When outside her hospital room Nash wears a hat and veil, usually made from a handkerchief attached the brim of a straw hat.

Nash said she wears the veil "so I don't scare people. And sometimes other people might insult you."

The chimp was shot and killed by police, and tests showed he had the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system.

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