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Update on Charla Nash, Survivor of the 2009 Chimp Attack
After the jump: The moment that left the lead surgeon almost at a loss for words
With this surgery, Charla joins a very select group. The first near-total face transplant in the United States took place three years ago at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. While doctors at Brigham and Women's have performed this type of procedure three times just this year, they're still extremely complicated and require a large team of experts. In each case, the face comes from a donor of the same gender who was a basic match with the patient in age and skin color.
Charla's team worked on her transplant for approximately 20 hours. The team leader, Bohdan Pomahac, MD, explained that Charla now has a full palate and teeth, which will allow her to chew food (she's been limited to purees since the attack). She will also be able to breathe through a nose and will even regain her sense of smell. During the press conference in which Dr. Pomahac broke the news of the recent transplant, he became overcome with emotion when describing what he perceived to be the most significant benefits of the surgery:
Charla is currently in rehabilitation at the hospital. She recently agreed to tell her story as part of a documentary by NBC's Peacock Productions, which we're taking as another sign of her optimistic plans for recovery.