May 11, 2010, - 3:47 pm

Should Chimp Lady Get to Cut to Front of Line for Face Transplant?

By Debbie Schlussel

Remember Charla Nash, the woman who tried to help lure a chimpanzee pet back into her friend’s house, and was mauled and disfigured by it?  Her friend was warned not to keep a pet like that, but did it anyway.  And she, herself, must have known of the danger.


Now, Nash is a candidate for a face transplant, a rare and costly procedure which few disfigured people are lucky enough to get.  Part of the reason that it’s rare is that there aren’t a lot of suitable faces that are donated for transplant.  Plus, it’s a very difficult and lengthy procedure that has been done less than a handful of times.

But there are many people whose faces were disfigured through no fault of their own–whether by tumor, growths, or accidents.  They are more deserving than this woman who took tremendous risk by helping to try to lure a wild chimpanzee back into a house, despite every common sense notion of staying away from it.

Why is she undergoing preliminary evaluation for a face and hand transplant at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, ahead of other more worthy, deserving candidates?

The thinking is that she deserves to be at the head of the line because she has problems breathing, etc.:

Nash’s injuries are so severe that she cannot eat or breathe normally, relying instead on feeding and breathing tubes. Blindness makes her life harder, Pomahac said.

“For a blind person, not having hands is probably the worst possible scenario,’’ he said. “The hands are very critical for her function in the future.’’

As tragic as is what happened to her, should this woman get to cut to the front of the line?

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54 Responses

From what I remember it wasn’t her monkey, it was her friends, and she went to her friends house to try to calm the monkey down.

M: Correct. Fixed. Thanks. DS

Matt on May 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm

It wasn’t her chimp. Her “friend” employer called her to calm the chimp down. He supposedly attacked her because she had recently changed the color of her hair.

The accident wasn’t her fault and she’s relatively young and has a huge desire to survive so if there is a suitable donor for her she should get to cut. Does anyone know how many on on the waiting list?

KM: You are correct. Fixed. Thanks. DS

Kim May on May 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    EVERYTHING anyone does is their own decision. She exercised extremely stupid judgement in responding to the situation armed only with her wits and a stuffed animal. I’ve said it for years, I’ll say it again, liberal morons (libtards) make up 95% of all victims of crime and misfortune. Keeping a dangerous animal like that actually is not a crime THERE, but it should’ve been. I would’ve advised the woman to call animal control or shoot the beast herself with a tranq dart and get rid of the damn thing. She was wacked out with her treatment of the thing and I wouldn’t have been party to that arrangement in any case.

    No new face for her until she waits her turn.
    Excellent M.O. joke, btw.

    samurai on May 12, 2010 at 11:32 am

..whoa ..from the Heading I thought this might be a disrepectful article about M.O. benefiting from her husband’s new health care plan..

Catfur on May 11, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    LMAO @ Catfur – great one!! But isn’t calling the First Beotch “Chimp Lady” racist? (lol)

    Jarhead on May 11, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I am not going to jump into this one. It is a horrible situation, and the chimpanzee’s owner deserves the lion’s share of the blame for what happened. Ms. Nash was foolish to get involved, but people frequently do get themselves into situations that are more than they bargained for when helping others. As for the face transplant, this person should stand in line like the others, unless there are special circumstances involved.

worry01 on May 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Google to find pictures. I think you’ll find “special circumstances.” NO nose, NO lips at all, not enough flesh to start to rebuild PLUS she lost both hands. I’ve seen people with their faces burned but they had vestiges with which the doctors could work, Not in this case. They didn’t think she’d survive at all.

    mk750 on May 12, 2010 at 3:08 am

I agree that she should go the front of the waiting list, but only if she recives a chimp’s face.

DS_ROCKS! on May 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I have mixed feelings on this one. Everyone makes mistakes. So, I am not sure I would not allow her to have a face transplant. I think I would be a little more compassionate than that even though she may be entirely at fault.

Mark Dias on May 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Debbie never suggested that Nash never get treatment. Her rather mild question is should Nash get to be first in line for such a transplant, since there are others through no fault of their own need one. Does notoriety entitle one to special treatment?

    worry01 on May 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Look at the pictures! NY Daily news has some last week.

    mk750 on May 12, 2010 at 3:11 am

People’s common sense seems to take leave of them when it comes to wild animals. Should she get her face fixed? I think there are a lot more deserving people in need of such a rare procedure.

NormanF on May 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I recall how the late “Superman” Reeves, while horse jumping (dressage?), etc. became a “victim” of his riches and leisure lifestyle choices as doctors fought to save his life, leaving him a super invalid for years till nature took its course, all the while devastating his family as we citizens took such warm fuzzies at this numerous attempts to show us how “normal” a life a guy like him could lead.

Now, this idiot who hung around another broad who might have had sexual problems from the get go, expects others to work miracles on her tortured remains, for the second time since monkey boy did his “he’s not shown this behavior for some time now!” dance on her body!

The docs want attention! She’s merely the bait…again!

RJ on May 11, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Horse jumping is not dressage and is a legitimate sport. CR could have been driving and been slammed by a drunk and had the same outcome. Yes, horse jumping is very dangerous but so is NFL football and NASCAR. He also had the tremendous wealth required to pay for his care so what business is it of your’s if he chose to live? Go find some neo-nazi rock to slither under.

    mk750 on May 12, 2010 at 3:15 am

Another person from CT, the Chimp Lady, I AM VERY ANNOYED AT! Not to mention the following…

Senators Dodd and Lieberman

All the Democrat reps

Lefty talk radio host and Hartford KORANT writer Colin McEnroe

Ned Lamont

Linda McMahon

Rob Simmons

Governor Jodi Rell

NEED I GO ON?! I hate living in such a lefty progressive state! But i live here because I have no choice based on the income I have which ain’t much because I have a disability preventing me from finding a job.

Bob Porrazzo on May 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Yeah, why not. This poor soul has been through so much and the consequences she’s had to have are just horrible. I have nothing but sympathy for this woman. God bless her.

Skunky on May 11, 2010 at 6:53 pm

I’d have shot the fucking chimp. Those are some damn dangerous animals.

Richard on May 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm

If you have the PR or the money you can always get what you want. 60 Minutes last year had one really good story for a change. How to Japanese Yakuza were able to come to America and jump the line for Liver transplants.

Yakuza members get poisoned from the tattoos so they need a liver transplant. Two members of this criminal organization came to America with $500,000 cash and gave it to UCLA. Presto they both got transplants. Japan is a country where transplant donations are rare so the criminals came here. They are convicted criminals who jumped the line while others died waiting for a transplant. UCLA and its staff looked like idiots which they are because they were embarrassed.

So what should NEVER happen which is foreign criminals getting preference and even getting a passport to come here. They also went to the top of the list by giving huge sums of money. The story also focused on Americans ho died at UCLA waiting for a liver. The hospital says it will not happen again. Yeah right.

SO when people at hospitals say there is a list and it is based on need they are lying. As my father is so fond of saying. ” Money talks and BS walks.”

spaceship22 on May 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Maybe they should graft an ass on her face so the world can see her for what she is…

Why reward people for their stupidity? Isn’t the government enough?

IceNoMore on May 12, 2010 at 1:27 am

Peeps, this woman has no face left at all. Have any of you seen the pictures? She was in the Cleveland clinic for a year. She probably has the money for it but either way, what if someone’s pit bull had jumped out at her? Would it be ok to give her a face then? She didn’t go swimming with the sharks as some idiots do and she didn’t lure an alligator with wonder bread as others do. This wasn’t even a stranger animal. It had known her for 20 years. I do however believe it is irresponsible and cruel to harbor wild animals and it’s unreasonable to expect them to never revert to their natures. Still, what does it say about y’all who think compassion should be meted out only to those you consider wise? It’s the fools and naive that we need to protect from their own follies because they cannot.

mk750 on May 12, 2010 at 3:04 am

    At mk
    I save my compassion for the other people waiting in line for their new face, that weren’t playing with dangerous animals.
    Save your lectures for people who give a shit.

    samurai on May 12, 2010 at 11:36 am

Dear mk750: I understand that experienced animal trainers warn that older chimpanzees can be tempermental and dangerous. She knew this animal. It’s a hard call to make. I don’t think she acted stupidly and even if she did, is there anyone on this website who always acts with complete prudence? She should definately get the face transplant, with a HUMAN face, but should she be allowed to go to the head of the line? I’m not sure.

Miranda Rose Smith on May 12, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Miranda, we agree. I think I said the same thing you did although I do believe that anyone who thinks a wild animal is safe is at least naive. Even a domestic cat who loves you can become a terror in the wrong circumstances. I have 2 who are gentle and I love dearly but when one misread some cues and thought I hurt his brother, oy va voy! He went for me big time. I had to grab a blanket and throw it over him to get free. it calmed him down and I left him there. Finally he emerged and all was well but now I am wary and make sure I am not doing anything he could misinterpret when his brother is in my vicinity.

    Now to get back on topic. Charla Nash’s injuries are horrific. She does not look human, not even a disfigured human. I think she deserves to go first. I don’t know how she eats. No hands and no mouth. She must have a feeding tube and that is not an indefinite solution.

    mk750 on May 12, 2010 at 10:32 am

Dear Ms. Schlussel: Calling Charla Nash “chimp lady” was cruel, childish and un-called for.

Miranda Rose Smith on May 12, 2010 at 6:55 am


    mk750 on May 12, 2010 at 10:34 am

      Thank you.

      My own cat is normally very gentle. He’s terrified of the vet and consequently vicious around the vet. Recently I took him to the vet’s office. I was trying to hold him still so that the vet could give him a shot. He bit me.

      Miranda Rose Smith on May 13, 2010 at 3:32 am

Also, she may very well have saved other innocent people from the chimp. If it got out and they hadn’t stopped it (or, well, distracted it, to put it rather indelicately), it could have easily hurt any innocent bystander that happened to be in the area – including children, the elderly, pregnant women, etc. She did the community a favor in the end.

hellcat on May 12, 2010 at 9:08 am

I imagine the final decision is up to the surgeons. I don’t have a problem with a surgeon’s (or a team of surgeons) decision to say, “This patient takes priority.” (ie, she has a pressing need which surpasses that of others — being both blind and without hands, etc.)

J.S. on May 12, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Yeah, JS actually you jogged my allergy medicated brain. This supposed “line” is not based on first come first served. One’s place on it is determined by a transplant committee which examines many criteria of the case. There’s the need for survival of course but also, the pt’s overall health and chance to recover, her age, being a match to the donor tissue, her mental state and of course the severity of the injury. Ms. Nash is not just blind, she has a hole where her face should be. The closest comparison to what it looks like is a navel. I am not saying that to be mocking or facetious in the least. That is the bottom line. Her nose and lips were totally severed and to save her, the doctors had to remove more tissue to close up the wound. She lost her eyelids and yes, the beast tore off her hands too.
    Take a good look at this. NO one should have to live in this condition regardless of why they got that way.

    mk750 on May 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm


Amen, Miranda. Sorry Debbie, but I have to take a break from your blog for awhile. You are getting too mean.

Janne on May 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Dear Janne: I’m not going to stop reading Ms. Schlussel’s blog, but when she says something cruel about a woman whose only mistake was not to realize that a DOMESTICATED animal that KNEW HER could suddenly turn dangerous-and the consequences of that mistake were horrendous-I’m going to point out that that kind of comment is just WRONG. I’ve done things a lot stupider than what Ms. Nash did and the only reason my behavior didn’t have horrendous consequences is that G-d (most of the time) looks after fools and little children.

    Miranda Rose Smith on May 13, 2010 at 3:41 am

I remember reading about this story, that there was something kinda creepy about the woman who owned the chimp, how she pampered it, took baths with it, etc. Just sort of creepy.

kenny komodo on May 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Yes, it’s SO CREEPY that the animals we’re 98% genetically similar to could be intelligent enough to do “human” things like pair bond or build fulfilling relationships or appreciate being pampered.

    Anuja on May 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm

@mk750: I’d have shot the fucking cat. Those are some damn dangerous animals.

/sarc off

Actually I prefer dogs.

Richard on May 12, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Dear Richard: I love both cats and dogs, but cats require less care. I think its a real shame that many Orthodox Jewish families bring their children up to be afraid of dogs.

    Miranda Rose Smith on May 13, 2010 at 3:45 am

      Interesting, Miranda and I’ve seen it although, here, more have issues with cats. Israelis LOVE dogs.
      I personally love most animals and I realize this cat was just acting like a cat who had a kitten to defend. Funny since they’re both 5 years old and both males. In almost 60 years of owning cats, I’ve never had one do such a thing but he genuinely loves me. If he had become a real danger, believe me Richard, he’d be gone. I’m not stupid. He just acted the way I would if someone was threatening one of my babies. BTW, these guys were babies on the street during Katrina. I’m glad they are as loving and domesticated as they are. They are great cats.

      I’m not at a place in life where a dog is a good idea. I have enough going on. I also have a healthy respect for what should be wild animals and am amazed at how many people think it’s ok to let a school of stingrays swim around them or who feed bread to 8 ft long alligators then wonder where Fluffy went to.
      I HATE seeing any bird in captivity. They were given wings so they could fly and be free.

      mk750 on May 13, 2010 at 9:02 am

        Are there really people who feed bread to alligators? I know plenty of hikers and campers feed bears-and wind up being eaten by them. You’re right in saying that wild animals are WILD. Just in passing, I think it’s cruel and stupid to remove a skunk’s stink glands so you can make a pet out of it. How will the poor animal defend itself afterwards? For the same reason, I would never declaw a cat.

        Miranda Rose Smith on May 14, 2010 at 3:36 am

What is WRONG with you people that you have the time, energy, and absolute lack of shame to be so petty? You’re really going to discuss who is more “deserving” of a FACE TRANSPLANT? The woman is missing a lot more than her face, and until I know who it was she “cut in front of” in line, and how many people are eligible for (or can afford) this costly procedure, it’s a load of crap to be debating this.

From wikipedia (view the article for numbered citations/footnotes):

“Injuries to Nash were described as “horrendous” by the emergency crew.[13] Within the following 72 hours, she underwent more than seven hours of surgery on her face and hands by four teams of surgeons; because of the extraordinary nature of Nash’s injuries, the hospital provided counseling to its staff members who initially treated her.[17] Paramedics noted she lost her hands, nose, eyes, lips, mid-face bone structure, and received significant brain tissue injuries.[18] Doctors were able to successfully reattach her jaw, but announced on April 7, 2009 that Nash would be blind for life.”

And you have the audacity to start a discussion on this? Obviously everyone who “deserves” this kind of surgery SHOULD have access to it– but then again, I’m sure folks like you would be up in arms about the state or federal government funding it for people who can’t afford it. So you’ve answered your own question– the only “worthy” people are those who can pay.

You disgust me. I pity you for having such small, pointless lives. She lost her face in an ACCIDENT, trying to HELP A FRIEND with a KNOWN, PREVIOUSLY-EXPERIENCED problem. She didn’t know the chimp was given XANAX prior to the incident.

And you? How many of you would help a friend now that you do know this could be a risk? Shame on all of you.

She deserves everything she can get in the way of help. And you folks, for being judgmental idiots, deserve everything you get for that. If you care so much about more deserving people, donate money or lobby congress or do SOMETHING that ensures they, and everyone else who deserves it, WILL GET THE TREATMENT THEY NEED. You know, all of you who still have faces.

Anuja on May 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Anuja, I agree with everything you said about the comments here. I do think it is an important discussion to have in view of the disgusting inhuman attitudes expressed. Perhaps one person will repent and try to make atonement by finding a material way to help. Maybe our Chief Blogger could start the process. We can’t pretend that utter crassness and inhumanity exist. These same people rightly condemn Islam for it’s cruelty and barbarism but then make these utterly horrible statements and name call an innocent woman.

    mk750 on May 13, 2010 at 3:37 am

      I meant “don’t exist”

      mk750 on May 13, 2010 at 8:52 am

The Herolds were wrong not to do something about previously-displayed aggressive behavior, but this chimp was socialized from birth and was in commercials his whole life.

Anuja on May 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm

MK750, I’m in complete agreement with your statements…(especially, “no one should have to live in this condition”). (I think the woman who owned the chimp was the irresponsible party.)

J.S. on May 12, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Thank you, J.S. but I think that should be, “…was the [responsible] party.” 😉 She should be made to sell off her Stamford CT home probably worth several million and anything else of value and all the money given to Ms. Nash for whatever treatment she can manage. And in this case it has to be counted as a blessing she’s blind. I can’t even imagine the psychological impact if she looked into a mirror.

mk750 on May 13, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Dear mk750: I agree. Ms. Nash should sue the chimp’s owner for the bolts on her BMW.

    Miranda Rose Smith on May 13, 2010 at 3:50 am

LOL MIranda! Coming from you, who is usually so kind and sweet, that’s quite a statement. However, maybe we should let the owner keep the bolts. She can have them transplanted into her head because she’s certainly lost a few along the way. hehehhe

mk750 on May 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Dear mk750: Thank you. I’m glad you think I am kind and sweet. I do my best to live up to other people’s high opinion of me.

    Miranda Rose Smith on May 14, 2010 at 2:40 am

I don’t know why but Mary’s rejoinder to my comment was posted on the “Dry Run” thread. Mary, it was I not Miranda who made the hairlip comment. It was not a jump to a conclusion, it was merely a way to open the conversation. What do you want me to do? Say, “So Mary, what IS wrong with the kid?” boy that would be nice.
I was trying to be gentle. You say you know about karma? Well, then I will assume, in this instance, that you don’t give a damn anymore. Very sad. An infant probably wouldn’t be a candidate for a face transplant because of growth issues but I could be wrong. I still believe that we mustn’t project our own emotions on situations where they have no relevance.

I know you’re angry because you can’t get famous for an act of G-d and you can’t sue Him for an “accident.” You obviously don’t have the money it takes to do the surgery your child needs but has it occurred to you that out of another person’s tragedy and ok, maybe even stupidity, public awareness will be raised and research done and funding made available because that someone got famous? That’s the capitalistic, consumer driven society you live in so you can lash out at everyone even those who try to show compassion or you can, as I said, sow some positive karma.

Someone else also commented that there is no pressing need for Ms. Nash’s surgery. Oh no? Listen, this is not a reconstruction to get a cute little button nose. I’m sure she would be happy with any nose right now. She has no way to breathe or eat except thru tubes. Those are not meant for long term or indefinite use. They will, in time, cause other damage. There is indeed a pressing need. Yes, maybe the doctors will get lots of press and with that, lots of funding. It is thru horrendous injuries often on the battlefield but also other ways that techniques are invented and perfected so that one day a sweet innocent baby like Mary’s, maybe even that very child WILL get the surgery she needs and it will be done skillfully. That takes lots of money and maybe the fame of this case will bring it in for others. Just maybe some people will be moved to donate their faces for transplantation. I doubt many people even know it’s possible. One of the problems stated in this case is the unavailablity of suitable faces.

mk750 on May 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Dear mk750: You’re right. Ms. Nash getting this operation with a lot of publicity may make it easier for those doing research into face transplants to get funds. It may prompt some people into donating their faces.

    Miranda Rose Smith on May 14, 2010 at 2:46 am

The exotic pet trade should be banned. Period. Amateurs have no business handling dangerous animals. I once worked at the Detroit Zoo as a docent. Even though I have formal education in biology; I was not allowed near anything more dangerous than a butterfly.

Tom in Michigan on May 14, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Dear Tom: I agree.

    Miranda Rose Smith on May 16, 2010 at 2:15 am

“Chimp Lady”? WTF Debbie.

Amy on May 15, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Actually the Chimp Lady was the OTHER woman, the owner of the chimp. Forgot her name already, but she had the chimp for 14 years and raised it from the time it was a baby. All that time and it never showed any violent tendencies until it went on this rampage.

Lots of people say, what was her friend thinking, going to help the chimp woman (the owner of the chimp). In fact, she’s visited her friend for many years. She’d been around the chimp many times before. So there was no reason to think that it was going to go beserk and try to kill her that day.

This is the problem with animals that are tamed but still have a killer instinct. Just like some the lion-tamer who was attacked by the lion. Pit Bulls and other types of dogs are often very gentle for many years and then all of a sudden they have a bad day and kill the neighbor’s two-year old. (It happens amazingly often as you can easily see on Google.

Peter Piper on June 28, 2010 at 12:35 am

The question is a Red Herring anyway. Nobody ever suggested that this anyone gets to ‘cut to the front of the line for a face transplant’.

Face transplants are still very experimental. There is no regular transplant center that does them. There has only been ONE full face transplant done in the entire world (April 2010.)

Btw. these are the common criteria for establishing priority for a transplant.

‘When a donated organ becomes available, a list is generated from United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) which ranks recipients based on severity of illness, length of time on the waiting list, size compatibility of organs, blood type, tissue types, and proximity to donor (because of time constraints on donated organs). ‘

Peter Piper on June 28, 2010 at 12:46 am

Nincompoop#1: Hey babe…wanna come over for lunch?
Nin……#2: Sure.
Nin……#1: It’ll be nice and cordial…Just the three of us.
Nin……#2 The three of us?
Nin……#1: …You, me, and the ape.
Nin……#2: Yeah – great. Hey, what kind of wine should I bring? I know you like white – how about the ape?
Nin……#1: He’s merlot all the way. But I have plenty here. We have a few glasses before we turn in at night. You should see him with a few belts up his beester. It’s hysterical.
Nin……#2: Seeing the ape drunk…A wino gorilla. Ha-ha, that one just tears me up. See you in a bit.

shegundala on December 11, 2011 at 11:16 am

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