Charla Nash, the woman who had a face transplant after she was badly disfigured and blinded by a rampaging chimpanzee three years ago, said that she would like to be able to see her own reflection.
Charla Nash, a 58-year-old single mother from Stamford, Connecticut, almost died after the mauling three years ago.
Travis, her friend’s pet, a 14-year-old male ape, tore off her hands, nose, lips and eyelids and left her blind.
Speaking at a rehabilitation center outside Boston, Charla Nash said she focuses on one day at a time and is glad to have survived.
Charla Nash told WABC this week: “I wouldn’t mind seeing what I look like.”
In an emotional and candid interview, Charla Nash revealed that she had been attacked by Travis the chimp before the near-fatal attack took place.
Charla Nash had avoided the 200-pound creature after it ripped hair from the back of her head.
She also revealed that she thought the relationship that her friend Sandra Herrold had with the primate was incredibly strange. Sandra Herrold died in 2010.
Charla Nash said Travis ate well and was allowed to drink wine by Sandra Herrold, who treated the chimp like a “companion”. The primate also allegedly slept in the bed with its owner which Charla Nash said was “bizarre”.
She had been helping Sandra Herrold lure her pet chimp Travis inside when the 200-pound animal ripped off her face.
On a harrowing 911 call, Sandra Herrold can be heard screaming that the chimp was “eating her”. The animal was later shot and killed by police.
At the time, Sandra Herrold speculated the pet was trying to protect her and didn’t recognize Charla Nash because she had changed her hairstyle.
Six months ago, Charla Nash underwent a 20-hour operation which left her with a new face, prosthetic eyes and new hands.
A team of more than 30 surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomanhac, painstakingly rebuilt her face.
They took a donor’s skin, underlying muscle, nerves and upper palate and transplanted the whole face on to Charla Nash’s skull.
Although a serious infection meant the hands had to be removed, she can now smell again, eat solid food – and says her new face “has really given me a life back”.
Charla Nash had previously told the Today show of the family who donated the face of their loved one: “Words can’t even say enough. It’s really given me a life back. It’s such a wonderful thing. I cannot thank them enough.”
Her 20-year-old daughter Brianna, a college student, added: “I’m still waiting for some of the underlying bone structure to take some shape on her cheeks – but it’s my mom.”
Charla Nash had previously described her disappointment on finding out that her hands had been removed after contracting pneumonia, which affected her circulation.
“I was disappointed that I had them and they’re gone again,” Charla Nash said.
“But I’m hoping for in the future, that it can be done again.”
Healing will continue over the next year, and Charla Nash hopes she will be given new hands so she can get a seeing eye dog.
Charla Nash had hidden her face under a veil for two years, but bravely revealed the disfigured features in an interview with Oprah Winfrey just a few months after the attack.
At the time Charla Nash said: “I wear [the veil] so I don’t scare people. Sometimes other people might insult you, so I figure maybe it’s easier if I just walk around covered up.”
Sandra Herrold died of an aneurysm in 2010. Charla Nash’s family are suing her estate for $50 million and the state for $150 million, saying officials failed to prevent the attack.
In 2003, Travis had to be captured by police after he got loose and was spotted running through the streets of downtown Stamford, Connecticut.
The compensation would help Charla Nash to pay for her extensive medical and rehabilitation bills and also cover the cost of her long-term care.
Charla Nash and her family will find out in the next few weeks whether her lawsuit will be allowed to proceed through the courts.
The double transplant was the first of its kind in the U.S., and has only been performed once before in the world, in France.
It was paid for by the Department of Defense, through a contract it gave Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2009 to cover the cost of face transplants for veterans and some civilians, hospital officials said.