Chimp Victim's Face Transplant Photos Released: Then And Now

Wow. Words can never compete with these pictures, but here's the release just in from Brigham and Women's:

First Photo and Statement from Face Transplant Recipient Charla Nash is Released

Boston, MA – Brigham and Women’s Hospital has released the first post-surgery photograph of Charla Nash, who received a full face transplant in late May of this year at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Nash was mauled by her friend’s chimp in Connecticut in 2009.

The following is a statement from Charla Nash:

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.

The first responders who arrived at the scene of the attack in Stamford were the first to see how injured I was, and the first to help me stay alive. Dr. Kevin Miller and his staff at Stamford Hospital performed life-saving surgery that first night. All the members of the medical team performed brilliantly. I was able to personally thank many members of that team, but I wish to once again express my gratitude.

I was moved to the Cleveland Clinic a few days after surgery. In Cleveland, Dr. Daniel Alam and a team of surgeons, nurses, and medical aides cared for me. During the 16 months I was in Cleveland, I was brought back to life. These wonderful people treated my injuries and helped me with my daily needs. I want to thank the Cleveland Clinic again for everything they did for me.

My journey to recovery continued at Brigham and Women's Hospital. I arrived in June, 2010. Here the medical team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, prepared me for a face transplant and a double hand transplant. My surgery was successfully completed a few months ago. Unfortunately, the hands did not thrive and had to be removed because of complications developing from my having pneumonia. I thank this wonderful staff for their efforts and I am grateful for all the care I have received here.

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.


“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. Pomahac led the team of more than 30 physicians, nurses and anesthesiologists in the full face transplant procedure, at the time the third full face transplant in three months at BWH.

High resolution photos of Charla Nash, including the newly released post-surgery photo, are available for download at:

And the Brigham has more details about her operation here. Here's a bigger version of the post-surgery photo:

This program aired on August 11, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Carey Goldberg

Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



More from WBUR

Listen Live