Charla Nash shows off face months after transplant

FriendsofCharlaNash.com / Brigham & Women's Hospital / TODAY

Charla Nash before the attack (left), immediately after surgery, and in recent interview.
FriendsofCharlaNash.com / Brigham & Women's Hospital / TODAY
(CBS/AP) Chimp attack victim Charla Nash says she's venturing out more after receiving a face transplant six months ago. She told NBC's "Today" show that her donor face has begun molding to her bone structure - and has begun receiving compliments on her appearance.

PICTURES: 7 amazing face transplants (graphic images)

"I've had people tell me I'm beautiful," Nash said in the interview that aired Monday. "And they were not telling me I was beautiful before."

Nash said she was cheered recently by a simple "hello" from a child.

"That didn't happen before," she said. "It was nice. The little girl was saying `Hi' to me...I'm not scaring anybody."

Nash was attacked in 2009 by a neighbor's 200-pound pet chimpanzee, which went berserk after its owner asked Nash to help lure it back into her house in Connecticut. Before it was shot to death by police, the animal ripped off Nash's nose, lips, eyelids, and hands - and left her blind.

In May she underwent a face and double hand transplant, but the hands were removed because they failed to thrive. Doctors have told her she might be able to have a transplant in a year.

Nash can now chew food and has a sense of smell. She said she can smell the perfumes of nurses she works with.

"They all smell pretty," she said.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said Nash's face would continue to heal.

"What we have seen is that the face almost blends in and becomes the patient's own, to the point that I think that a regular person passing by will not be even able to tell," he told the "Today" show.

Nash's daughter, Briana, believes her mother is back.

"She looks similar," she said. "I'm still waiting for the underlying bone structure to take some shape on her cheeks. But it's my mom."

  • David W Freeman

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