A US mother who was mauled by a frenzied chimp more than two years ago has been given a full face transplant, doctors said on Friday.
The patient, Charla Nash, also had two hand transplants but those operations were not successful and the hands had to be removed, said surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Advertisement"The hand transplants turned out to be very challenging," said plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahac who led the team of physicians, nurses and anesthesiologists on the US hospital's second full face transplant.
"A few days post operatively Charla developed pneumonia and she became septic," said Pomahac.
"After several days of doing everything possible to maintain the hands it was clear they were not thriving, so we removed the hands."
The same hospital earlier this year performed its first full face transplant on a man named Dallas Wiens, who lost his face and eyesight in an electrical accident.
Nash's full face transplant "was very different," said Pomahac. "She required significantly more work."
In the attack, Nash lost her eyes, nose, upper jaw and lips and most of the soft tissue in her face, he said.
Nash did not appear at the press conference and doctors declined to reveal any information about the donor to protect the family's privacy.
She is expected to gain muscle control over her new face over the coming weeks and months, however she is not likely to be able to see again.
The hospital said it would be several months before any images are released, and that she would not resemble the donor because the muscles and tissue would form to her own bone structure.
Nash's brother Steve described her as "simply beautiful," and doctors said she hoped to attend her daughter Briana's college graduation, after skipping her high school ceremony for fear of drawing too much attention.
Nash was injured by a friend's chimpanzee during a visit in 2009.
The world's first full face transplant took place in Spain, and doctors at Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona showed off their work to the public in July 2010.
The first successful partial face transplant was performed in France in 2005 on Isabelle Dinoire, a 38-year-old woman who had been mauled by her dog.
Since then about a dozen face transplant operations have been carried out in China, the United States and Spain.