Chimp Attack Victim Charla Nash Debuts New Face

Princess 19 on 11 Aug 2011 at 3:37pm

You may recall the horrific 2009 attack on Charla Nash - the woman who was basically eaten alive when her friend's pet 200 pound chimpanzee, Travis, went on a xanex-driven and fearful rampage.  Two years later, she received a face transplant to replace her eyelids, nose, lips and jaw that she lost from the accident.  Her new face was revealed this morning on the Today Show with Ann Curry.

Since the 2009 attack, the Stamford native has been wearing a straw hat with a veil to cover herself.  She revealed her mangled appearance on a November 2009 episode of Oprah.  In May, a team of 30 doctors and nurses performed a grueling 20-hour surgery to give her a new face.  The team, under the leadership of Dr. Bohdan Pomanhac at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, performed a groundbreaking full face and double hand transplant.  The new hands, unfortunately had to be removed due to poor circulation of blood when Charla developed pneumonia.

“All she said is – just like with the attack – we’re going to start from this point and move forward,” her brother, Steve Nash, told Ann Curry. “So we’re very optimistic and just looking forward to the next attempt at [a hand] transplant.”

As reported by the Today Show, Charla’s new face still took after the surgery.  As time passed, the swelling went down, her face began to mold to her underlying bone structure, giving her an appearance that was similar to a face previous to the attack.  She will soon be able to do some of the things she had lost the ability to, like taste her food and to breathe through her own nose. Her first meal after the surgery: Eggs and cream cheese.

“I’m beginning to feel my jaw and chin,” Charla told TODAY. “And I can move my mouth and smile. I still feel weak. But little by little I’m getting stronger.”

But, none of this would ever have been possible without the selfless donation to Charla.  In June, Steve got very emotional during a press conference with grateful words for 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."

The results of the transplant are "amazing to see" says Steve.  See more of the report and Charla's transformation below.

Photo credit:  Nash Family and Today Show, Brigham and Women's Hospital (Mitch Hunter transplant)