Charla Nash deals with face transplant setback, but it's not in jeopardy

Charla Nash deals with face transplant setback, but it's not in jeopardy

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Connecticut woman who underwent a face transplant five years ago after being attacked by a chimpanzee is now dealing with a setback in her treatment plan.

Charla Nash first sought treatment in Northeast Ohio at Cleveland Clinic.

Now doctors have decided to end an experimental drug treatment after Nash's body rejected her face transplant recently.

Despite this, doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston say Charla's face transplant is not in jeopardy.

It was a surgery watched around the world.

"We had to remove first the tissues we used for reconstruction, then recover the full facial transplantation including the skin, the underlying muscles based on their vessels as well as nerves that provide motor function and sensory function to the new face," said Bohdan Pomahac, M.D. and director of Plastic Surgery Transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

This video including an interview with the doctor can be found here on the hospital's website.

Surgeons performed a double hand transplant at the same time, but they had to remove them due to complications.

In this latest challenge, doctors say Nash is experiencing a moderate rejection episode, which face transplant patients sometimes experience.

But they say she will overcome this too.

"To us, she is not a woman mauled by a chimpanzee, to us, Charla is a courageous, strong person who inspired the team to do everything possible using our collective expertise to restore her quality of life," Pomahac said.

On Wednesday, Nash released this statement through the hospital:

"I appreciate everyone's concern. I feel perfect. I didn't even know I was having a rejection episode. While I am disappointed that I cannot continue in the research project, I am proud of my contributions to date, and am hopeful that it will help those wounded serving our country, and others needing transplants in the future."

Doctors say Nash has resumed her original medication and she should leave the hospital in the next day or two.

They expect this rejection episode to be resolved within a week.

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