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Following face transplant, chimp attack victim Charla Nash talks burgers

Brigham and Women's Hospital physicians performed a 20-hour operation to replace Charla Nash's face Harpo Productions, Inc.

(CBS/AP) Charla Nash has a new face. Three years after having her hands, nose, lips and eyelids ripped off in a devastating chimp attack, the Connecticut woman underwent successful face transplant surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

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Dr. Bohdan Pomahac led a 30-member surgical team to perform the 20-hour operation, which included a double hand transplant on Nash, but the hands failed to take and were removed.

Nash's brother says she looks "fantastic." But John Orr, Nash family's spokesman, said the 58-year-old woman developed complications from the surgery and recently regained consciousness.

"She developed pneumonia, she had kidney failure, she had the circulation issue with the hands," Orr said. "She's been under, so to speak, since this whole thing began, and now she's just starting to wake up."

And what's the first thing she asked her surgeon for?

A hamburger.

The donor, whose identity has been kept secret, was a "fairly consistent match" for Nash. A donor can be up to 20 years younger or 10 years older than the recipient, and must have the same blood type, skin color and texture.

"She's not aware of the hands, that she lost them," Orr said. "She's still groggy. She's acknowledging with a nod that someone is there, but she still has pneumonia issues. The kidneys are back working, but she isn't aware of too much yet."

The simultaneous face and hands surgery has only been done once before, in France in 2009, but that patient later died.

Charla Nash gained notoriety when the 200-pound chimpanzee, Travis, went on its rampage in February 2009, before it was shot and killed by police.

Since the attack, Nash wore a straw hat with a veil to cover her injuries.

Nearly a dozen face transplants have been done worldwide, in the U.S., France, Spain and China.

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