The woman who was attacked by a chimpanzee and nearly killed will likely be blind for life, say her doctors.
55-year-old Charla Nash of Stamford, Connecticut, suffered a chimp attack February 16 th. A 200-pound pet chimp ripped her hands, nose, lips, and eyelids.
Nash, faces years of surgery but her doctors say she has made significant neurological and psychological improvements.
"She is now awake and is able to communicate with her family and caregivers," physicians at the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement.
"However, full cognitive recovery could take up to a year. As we have begun to communicate with her, it is clear that her injury has left her completely blind in both eyes, with no chance for improvement."
Initial surgery will take place on facial reconstruction. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic say Nash may be a candidate for a face transplant that has been pioneered at the clinic.
Last December, the Cleveland Clinic successfully completed a facial reconstructive surgery on a woman who had almost her entire face transplanted with skin and muscles harvested from a cadaver.
It was the most extensive reconstructive surgery every completed on a face in the U.S.
The chimp, Travis, was owned by her friend Sandra Herold, 70 who had raised Travis for his entire 14 year life. Travis appeared in commercials.
In February Herold called her friend Nash over to help contain Travis who would not come back inside her home. That’s when Travis attacked Nash causing traumatic brain injury.
The Department of Environmental Protection had allowed the Herolds to keep Travis in their home even though there is a limit on keeping primates over 50 pounds.
20 states and the District of Columbia do not allow primates to be kept as pets.
The state could bear some liability in a lawsuit as well and Nash has filed a $50 million lawsuit to help recover some of her medical costs. Herold is ordered in the lawsuit not to liquidate any of her assets.
Herold lived alone after her husband died five years ago and her daughter was killed in a car accident. The chimp lived as her son, brushed his teeth and ate fine meals of steak and lobster.
During the attack Herold stabbed Travis with a knife to get him off Nash.
“I hollered at him and I went to get the shovel and I got a knife, I had to, he looked at me like Mom, what did I do? He was just too strong and I ran and got the phone and called 9-1-1-.””He ripped her face off,” Herold told the Today show.
Herold says her friend was wearing her hair differently and the chimp may not have recognized her.
But that day Travis was acting rambunctiously so Herold gave him Xanax in his tea, a drug prescribed for anxiety. Five minutes later, he attacked Nash. Confusion and irritability can be a side effect of Xanax in humans.
The family has a website http://nashtrust.com/, to report on her progress and to take in donations. #