Charla Nash, 57, whose face was mauled by a furious 200-pound pet chimpanzee in February 2009, has undergone a full face transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, medical team leader announced. The animal attack left her blind. Nash says she yearns to be able to eat pizza and hamburgers again; quite a change from the pureed foods she has had to live on over the last few months.
The chimpanzee's owner had asked Nash help her coax the animal back into the house. Her hands were ripped off, as were her nose, lips and eyelids. The police intervened and shot the chimp dead, but not soon enough to prevent her dreadful injuries.
This is the third full face transplant in the United States. A team of 30 medical professionals were involved in replacing nerves, blood vessels, underlying muscles, her teeth and hard palate.
Dr. Pomahac said that overall, her prognosis looks good. Nash also underwent a double hand transplant in May. Unfortunately, she had a pneumonia complication, resulting in a serious drop in blood pressure, this undermined the blood supply to her hands, and they eventually had to be removed. However, Pomahac said she might still be a candidate for another hand transplant.
Dr. Pohamac said:
"She will eventually be able to eat a hamburger, something she said was very important her, having only had pureed food since her injury, and I think we can all relate to that."
Over the coming months Nash is expected to gradually gain control over her facial muscles and develop feeling, allowing her to breathe through her nose and get her sense of smell back.
Unfortunately, doctors could do nothing about her blindness.
The donor remains anonymous.
The chimpanzee's owner as well as state officials are being sued by Nash's family.
Face transplants at Brigham and Women's HospitalBrigham and Women's Hospital is known as a pioneer in performing and promoting face transplants.
- May 2011 - Charla Nash received a full face transplant.
- April 2011 - Mitch Hunter, Indiana, underwent a 14-hour operation to replace the full facial area, including nerves, facial animation muscles, eyelids and the nose.
- March 2011 - Dallas Wiens underwent the first full face transplant ever done n the USA. Surgeons replaced the facial animation muscles, nerves, facial skin, lips and nose of the patient.
- April 2009 - the first successful partial face transplant in New England was performed. It was the second in the country and the seventh worldwide.
Source: Brigham and Women's Hospital
Written by Christian Nordqvist