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Face transplant patient progressing well; new photo released

August 11, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Before and after photos of Charla Nash, who received a face transplant in May. The undated photo on the right was released by the hospital Thursday.
Before and after photos of Charla Nash, who received a face transplant in… (Brigham and Women's Hospital )

Face transplant patient Charla Nash, who was disfigured after being mauled by a 200-pound chimpanzee two years ago, says she is recovering well and is grateful for the reconstructive surgery that is returning her to a fuller life.

In photos released Thursday by Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, Nash is shown with her new face, still swollen but similar in skin tone to her face prior to the attack. Nash, 57, lost her lips, eyes, nose and hands in the attack. Hands were also transplanted in the 20-hour operation in May. However, complications ensued and the hands were removed.

"Losing the new hands is just a bump in the road of my recovery," Nash said Thursday in a statement release by the hospital. "I believe that one day I'll have two hands to help me live as a blind person with confidence."

The face transplant, the third full face transplant performed in the United States, has been successful thus far.  

"I will now be able to do things I once took for granted. I will be able to smell," she said. "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."

The transplanted face is not similar to her pre-accident appearance, but it also does not replicate the face of the donor. The underlying facial bones and muscle of the recipient changes the shape of the donor's tissue, according to hospital officials.

The first-ever full face transplant took place last year. The procedure is still considered experimental.

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