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Thursday
Aug112011

New Face of Chimpanzee Attack Victim Revealed

Charla Nash is seen after her May, 2011, face transplant at the hospital. (Brigham and Women's Hospital/Lightchaser Photography)(NEW YORK) -- The new face of Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee two years ago, was revealed for the first time Thursday.

The photos of Nash were first shown on NBC's Today show Thursday morning and were later released by Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, where the surgery was performed in late May.

Nash is still recovering from the grueling 20-hour surgical marathon by a team of more than 30 doctors and nurses. An attempt to give her a pair of new hands failed, and the transplanted hands were removed.

Nash, 57, was helping her friend, Sandra Herold, lure her pet chimp Travis inside when the 200-pound animal ripped off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot and killed by police.

Since the 2009 attack that also left her blind, Nash wore a straw hat with a veil to cover her injuries, but revealed her mangled face on a November 2009 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Before the transplant, the woman’s family says Nash had to eat pureed food through a straw. Now, she will be able to eat and is looking forward to a trip to the family's hot dog stand in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Nash desperately wanted a simultaneous face and hand transplant -- a procedure that has been done only once before in France, and that patient later died. The procedure is complicated because of the precision and coordination necessary, and the increased risk of complications. Nash developed pneumonia and kidney failure after the transplant, which hampered circulation to the hands.

The hands and face both came from the same donor, but the hand transplant failed and they had to be removed, the doctors said. But Pomahac said the team "could transplant the hands again should a suitable donor be identified."

Nash is the third person to undergo a face transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dallas Wiens received the nation's first face transplant patient there in March.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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