BOSTON -—Charla Nash, who months ago underwent a full face transplant after being mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009, revealed her new face in the first post-surgery photo released on Thursday.
The 57-year-old Connecticut woman, photographed in her hospital bed at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, now has rosebud lips, with which "I will be able to kiss and hug loved ones," she said in a statement.
Nash was hurt after a friend's 200-pound pet chimpanzee went on a rampage. She lost her hands, lips, nose and eyes, leaving her blind and disfigured after the attack. The animal was eventually shot and killed by police.
Nash's full face transplant was the third surgery of its kind performed in the country, all at the same 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," said Nash in a statement released with the photo.
An anonymous female donor provided face, hands and other tissue material that made the surgery possible. The hand transplant was deemed successful but the hands did not thrive after complications from pneumonia and were removed.
"Losing the new hands is just a bump in the road of my recovery," Nash said.
Exclusive interviews with family and video footage of Nash were released first on NBC's Today show early on Thursday.
Her first solid meal since getting her new face: eggs with cream cheese, according to the footage shown on the show. Nash's only daughter said her energetic mom was pretty impatient to recover.
In the photo, Nash appears with a new nose, lips, facial skin. Prior to the surgery, Nash was often photographed wearing a veil to hide her disfigurement.
Doctors have said they expect her to enjoy a more normal social life post-surgery. Another hand transplant could be attempted if a suitable donor is identified, doctors have said.
Nash's face was rebuilt by a medical team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and residents in a challenging surgery made more complex by a double hand transplant.
In the statement, Nash expressed her gratitude to teams of doctors who treated her immediately following the attack, later at the Cleveland Clinic and from Brigham and Women's, and also to the anonymous female donor.
"These transplants could not have been possible without the generosity of a family unknown to me," Nash said.
"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," Nash said in the statement.
Brigham and Women's, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, successfully performed the two previous full face transplants earlier this year.
The world's first full face transplant was completed in Spain in 2010.