Chimp attack victim awaits transplant

April 6, 2011

A Connecticut woman attacked and mutilated two years ago by a chimpanzee has been approved for face and hand transplant surgery.

Boston - A Connecticut woman attacked and mutilated two years ago by a chimpanzee has been approved for face and hand transplant surgery.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is working with the New England Organ Bank to find donors who match the tissue requirements of Charla Nash, 57, the Associated Press reports.

Ms. Nash was attacked two years ago by a neighbor’s 200-pound pet chimpanzee in an incident that received widespread media coverage. The chimp ripped off the woman’s hands, nose, lips and eyelids, leaving her unable to see, touch, smell or eat easily.

Currently living at a rehabilitation center near Boston, Ms. Nash was deemed eligible for the surgery at Brigham and Women’s after passing numerous preoperative tests and evaluations. The hospital performed the nation’s first full face transplant last month on a Texas construction worker injured in an electrical accident.

As in that surgery, the Department of Defense would pay for Ms. Nash’s operations through a 2009 contract given the hospital to cover the cost of face transplants for veterans and some civilians. The AP reports that, depending on the availability of donors, the hospital might end up performing the nation’s first simultaneous hand and face transplant.

The simultaneous surgery has been performed only once before, in France in 2009. The patient later died.

The Cleveland Clinic, which performed the nation’s first partial face transplant in late 2008, said last year that Ms. Nash would not be a candidate for face and hand transplant surgery because of the complexity of her injuries.