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Woman Who Had Face Transplant Following Chimp Attack Opens Up in Documentary

  • Charla Nash

    Charla Nash, after a full face transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital. (Lightchaser Photography)

  • Charla Nash

    Charla Nash before the attack in February 2009. (AP)

A woman who almost died after being attacked by a pet chimp has spoken publicly for the first time since undergoing a face transplant.

Charla Nash, a 55-year-old single mother from Connecticut, had her face and hands ripped off two years ago as she tried to catch her boss' escaped pet ape, Travis.

The 14-year-old male chimpanzee went berserk when Nash attempted to coax him back inside the enclosure he had broken out of.

The attack left her clinging to life with terrible, disfiguring injuries -- but a pioneering 20-hour operation earlier this year involving dozens of doctors has left Nash with a new face and a new chance at life.

In her first interview since the life-changing procedure, she spoke of her disappointment that her hand transplant was unsuccessful but said she had never given up after the mauling.

The interview was screened Thursday night local time on Britain's Channel 5 as part of a documentary series called "Extraordinary People," Sky News reported.

"A lot of people tell me I look beautiful, and I never had anyone tell me that before," Nash said. "I look OK now, and I don't have to worry about scaring anyone."

Nash has to rely on the opinions of others, because the attack left her blind and her family have been crucial in helping her through her ordeal.

Nash's recovery will take years and she will always have to take anti-rejection drugs, but she is optimistic she may yet get a successful hand transplant in the future.

Despite her ordeal, she has much to smile about. "I think in the beginning, I always wondered 'why me?'," she said. "But then again, my whole life has not been easy but I never gave up."

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