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Cleveland Clinic Will Not Perform Hand-Face Transplant on Chimp Attack Woman

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, January 25, 2010 5:58 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Chimp Attack, Charla Nash, Animal Laws, Chimpanzees, Primates, Workers' Compensation, Xanax

Charla Nash will not get a face and hand transplant at the Cleveland Clinic after a chimp attack.

Face-Hand Transplant


IMAGE SOURCE: Charla Nash Trust Web site

An Ohio hospital has told the woman whose face was nearly ripped off by an angry chimp last year, that she is not a candidate for a hand and face transplant.

Charla Nash had hoped the Cleveland Clinic would do the surgery, but her attorney now says she is looking into alterative facilities. The hand and face must come from the same donor to be successful.

While the Cleveland Clinic has done a number of surgeries on Nash and more are planned, the hospital said in a statement, “However due to the complexity of her injuries, the medical team has concluded she is not a candidate for transplantation at this time.”

A clinic spokesman says that hand surgery involves a lot of research and a long regulatory process. Nash has been at the Cleveland Clinic since soon after the attack.

The hospital has already performed the nation’s first face transplant. It has not done a hand transplant.

Hands would allow her more independence and a face transplant would allow Nash to smell, breathe and eat. Currently she takes in nutrients through a straw.

The Cleveland Clinic has not ruled out collaborating with another hospital, and Nash is looking at other facilities in the U.S. and Canada. A Paris hospital performed the world’s first simultaneous partial-face and double hand transplant in Paris, but the patient had a heart attack during follow up surgery.

In November, Nash showed her disfigured face to the world on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She expects to soon be discharged to another facility for rehabilitation.

Last February, a 200-pound pet chimp named Travis, who belonged to her neighbor, became agitated and ripped off Nash’s hands, nose, lips and eyelids, leaving her blind with skin folds instead of a face.

Chimp on Xanax

The owner of the chimp, Sandra Herold, of Stamford, Connecticut, has not been charged criminally because prosecutors say there is no evidence she knowingly disregarded any risk the animal poses, the Washington Post reports.

Nash has filed a civil suit against Herold for $50 million and wants to sue the state for $150 million for looking the other way and allowing a wild animal to be kept in captivity. Herold’s attorney says Nash worked for her and this should be treated like a workers’ compensation claim, which would shield Herold from personal liability.

At the time police shot and killed the chimp, test results showed he had the anti-anxiety drug, Xanax in his system, which had been given to him by his owner minutes before the attack. #

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