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Conn. woman happy with face transplant

Nov. 21, 2011 at 4:53 PM   |   Comments

STAMFORD, Conn., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A Connecticut woman whose face was ripped off by a chimpanzee three years ago says she's happy with her transplanted face, though she can't see it herself.

Charla Nash of Stamford, who was left blind, disfigured and handless by the attack, recounted on NBC's "Today Show" Monday how she has resumed a more normal life. She recounted a trip to the store with her brother when they encountered a little girl who said hello to her.

"That didn't happen before," Nash told NBC. "It was nice. The little girl was saying hi to me. I looked like I've got eyes and everything. … I'm not scaring anybody."

Nash was attacked Feb. 16, 2009, by a chimp named Travis that was owned by her friend, Sandra Herold. Nash said she has had other positive feedback, as well since her face has healed following a 20-hour, triple transplant operation.

"I've had people tell me I'm beautiful," Nash said. "And they were not telling me I was beautiful before."

She enjoys being able to smell everyday smells such as her nurses' perfume. "They all smell pretty," she said.

Nash said she was "disappointed" by the loss of her hands but doctor have told her she might be able to try a hand transplant again in as little as a year.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said Nash's face will continue to evolve.

"What we have seen is that the face almost blends in and becomes the patient's own, to the point that I think that a regular person passing by will not be even able to tell," he told the "Today Show."

Nash's daughter, Briana, said her mother's features are becoming more familiar to her.

"I'm still waiting for the underlying bone structure to take some shape on her cheeks. But it's my mom," she said.

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