Press Releases

August 11, 2011

First Photo and Statement from Face Transplant Recipient Charla Nash is Released

Boston, MA – Brigham and Women’s Hospital has released the first post-surgery photograph of Charla Nash, who received a full face transplant in late May of this year at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Nash was mauled by her friend’s chimp in Connecticut in 2009.

The following is a statement from Charla Nash:

Since February 16, 2009, I have been blessed to be in the care of many incredible doctors, nurses, and caregivers. These professionals first saved my life, then healed my wounds and strengthened me to face an uncertain future. They helped me adapt to a near impossible situation where I was unable to see, smell, and move with confidence without the use of hands. Finally, I was given the chance to restore most of what I lost by coming to Brigham and Women's Hospital. Here I received a new face and two hands that will allow me to be independent once again and able to be part of society. Losing the new hands is just a bump in the road of my recovery. I believe that one day I'll have two hands to help me live as a blind person with confidence.
I thank everyone who has helped me for these last two and a half years.
The first responders who arrived at the scene of the attack in Stamford were the first to see how injured I was, and the first to help me stay alive. Dr. Kevin Miller and his staff at Stamford Hospital performed life-saving surgery that first night. All the members of the medical team performed brilliantly. I was able to personally thank many members of that team, but I wish to once again express my gratitude.
I was moved to the Cleveland Clinic a few days after surgery. In Cleveland, Dr. Daniel Alam and a team of surgeons, nurses, and medical aides cared for me. During the 16 months I was in Cleveland, I was brought back to life. These wonderful people treated my injuries and helped me with my daily needs. I want to thank the Cleveland Clinic again for everything they did for me.
My journey to recovery continued at Brigham and Women's Hospital. I arrived in June, 2010. Here the medical team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, prepared me for a face transplant and a double hand transplant. My surgery was successfully completed a few months ago. Unfortunately, the hands did not thrive and had to be removed because of complications developing from my having pneumonia. I thank this wonderful staff for their efforts and I am grateful for all the care I have received here.
These transplants could not have been possible without the generosity of a family unknown to me. They gave me a face and hands. I will now be able to do things I once took for granted. I will be able to smell. I will be able to eat normally. I will no longer be disfigured. I will have lips and will speak clearly once again. I will be able to kiss and hug loved ones. I am tremendously grateful to the donor and her family.

“It’s wonderful to see how Charla’s recovery has progressed as she continues taking steps toward her new life,” said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of the BWH Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program. Pomahac led the team of more than 30 physicians, nurses and anesthesiologists in the full face transplant procedure, at the time the third full face transplant in three months at BWH.

High resolution photos of Charla Nash, including the newly released post-surgery photo, are available for download at:

Photos from the procedure, video of both the procedure and the press conference and additional information about Nash’s transplant can be found here:

Transplant History at BWH

  • Today, BWH is recognized as one of the world’s leaders in transplantation.
  • In 1954, a BWH team led by Dr. Joseph Murray performed the first successful human organ donor transplant, a kidney, from one brother to another. In recognition of this achievement, Dr. Murray received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1990.
  • The first heart transplant in New England was performed at BWH in 1984; this year, the 600th heart transplant was successfully performed at the hospital.
  • The first heart-lung transplant in Massachusetts was done at BWH in 1992
    BWH also performed the first triple organ transplant and the first quintuple lung transplant in the United States in 1995 and 2004 respectively.
    In 2006, BWH performed for the first time in its history 100 kidney transplants in one year and in 2008, more than 30 lung transplants were performed, putting BWH among the top hospitals in the country for volume.
  • To date, BWH has performed three full face transplant procedures and one partial face transplant, the most in the country.