Chimp-mauled woman gets face transplant

June 10, 2011 at 1:21 PM

BOSTON, June 10 (UPI) -- The Connecticut woman mauled by a chimp in 2009 received a full face transplant last month, officials from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston said Friday.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, who led the BWH plastic and orthopedic surgery team, called the transplant "a success," WCVB-TV, Boston reported.

"We have been able to provide something that will eventually turn into a very functional face," Pomahac said of the team's work on Charla Nash, who was attacked by a neighbor's enraged pet chimpanzee two years ago in Stamford, Conn.

A double hand transplant was performed on Nash wasn't successful, the hospital said in a release. The hands failed to thrive and were removed.

Pomahac said he was confident doctors could try to transplant the hands again if a suitable donor is found.

The team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents worked for more than 20 hours to replace Nash's full facial area, including her nose, lips, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and the nerves that power them and provide sensation, the hospital said. The date of the procedure will not be released to ensure the privacy of the donor.

Nash's injuries are so severe, she hasn't been able to eat or breathe normally and has had to rely on feeding and breathing tubes, the Boston Globe reported.

Pomahac said Nash, who also was blinded in the attack, should regain her sense of smell and be able to eat.

"She will eventually be able to eat a hamburger, which she said was very important to her having eaten only pureed food since her injury," Pomahac said.

Brigham and Women's Hospital performed a partial face transplant on a Fitchburg, Mass., resident in April 2009, and full face transplants on patients from Texas and Indiana earlier this year.

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