Chimp’s victim is denied transplants
NEW HAVEN - An Ohio hospital has told the family of a Connecticut woman mauled and blinded by a chimpanzee a year ago that it cannot perform a face and hand transplant for her, a family attorney said yesterday.
Charla Nash’s family is looking into alternative facilities after the Cleveland Clinic said it could not do both transplants, attorney Bill Monaco told the Associated Press yesterday. He said the transplants have to be done simultaneously and come from the same donor.
The 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis went berserk in February after his owner asked Nash to help lure him back into her house. The animal ripped Nash’s hands, nose, lips, and eyelids.
Telephone messages left yesterday with the hospital, which in 2008 performed the nation’s first face transplant, were not immediately returned.
The clinic does not believe it has the capability to do the hand transplant surgery, Monaco said. He said it has not ruled out the possibility of some type of collaboration with another hospital.
Nash’s family is researching the possibilities of the transplants at a few other hospitals in the United States and one in Canada, Monaco said.
“It will significantly improve her quality of life,’’ Monaco said.
A face transplant would help Nash smell, breathe, and eat, while a hand transplant would help her be more independent, Monaco said. Nash has great difficulty eating and mostly uses a straw, he said.
Even if Nash was declared a candidate for the transplants, the surgery would not be done for years, Monaco said.
Nash, who revealed her heavily disfigured face in November on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,’’ has been at the Cleveland Clinic since soon after the attack.
She expects to be discharged soon to an undetermined facility for rehabilitation, Monaco said.
Prosecutors said in December they would not charge the chimp’s owner, Sandra Herold, because there was no evidence she knowingly disregarded any risk Travis posed.
Nash’s family is suing Herold for $50 million and wants to sue the state for $150 million.
The family has said Herold was negligent and reckless for lacking the ability to control “a wild animal with violent propensities.’’
Herold’s attorney has called the attack work-related - Nash worked for Herold and the animal played a promotional role in Herold’s tow-truck business - and said her case should be treated like a workers’ compensation claim.
Test results showed that Travis, who was shot and killed by police, had the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system.