Charla Nash, who received a full face transplant in late May of this year after she was mauled by a friend’s chimpanzee in 2009, has released a photo and statement about her treatment.
Nash lost her hands, lips, nose and eyes in the attack, leaving her blind and disfigured. The transplant operation took 20 hours.
In her statement, Nash expressed gratitude to the family of the organ donor, who remains anonymous. She wrote:
These transplants could not have been possible without the generosity of a family unknown to me. They gave me a face and hands. I will now be able to do things I once took for granted. I will be able to smell. I will be able to eat normally. I will no longer be disfigured. I will have lips and will speak clearly once again. I will be able to kiss and hug loved ones. I am tremendously grateful to the donor and her family.
Nash also received a double hand transplant. However, Nash said she developed pneumonia, and because of the complications that ensued, the hands needed to be removed. [Photos of Nash before and after her transplant]
Nash thanked the medical professionals who treated her, writing:
Since February 16, 2009, I have been blessed to be in the care of many incredible doctors, nurses, and caregivers. These professionals first saved my life, then healed my wounds and strengthened me to face an uncertain future. They helped me adapt to a near impossible situation where I was unable to see, smell, and move with confidence without the use of hands. Finally, I was given the chance to restore most of what I lost by coming to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Here I received a new face and two hands that will allow me to be independent once again and able to be part of society. Losing the new hands is just a bump in the road of my recovery. I believe that one day I’ll have two hands to help me live as a blind person with confidence.
I thank everyone who has helped me for these last two and a half years.
“It’s wonderful to see how Charla’s recovery has progressed as she continues taking steps toward her new life,” said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of the BWH Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program, who led the face transplant operation.
The transplant was the third full face transplant performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston and is only the second time that a face and double hand transplant has been attempted, the hospital said. The first was performed in France in 2009, but that patient died of a heart attack during a follow-up surgery.
Nash also thanked medical professionals at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut, who treated her immediately after the attack, and at the Cleveland Clinic, where she was treated for 16 months before her transfer to Boston.
Nash’s statement in its entirety is posted on the hospitals website.