Update on Charla Nash, Victim of Chimp Attack

Used with permission.

Charla Nash. Used with permission.

I’ve been very moved by the story of Charla Nash since I first heard of her being mauled by her friend’s chimpanzee, and I posted about it here more than a month ago. It’s probably because I’m both a nurse and an animal lover that it has affected me so much. I was relieved to hear that the family does not blame the chimp. Said her brother Michael, “I do not blame Travis. He is an animal that acted as a chimpanzee. Living in a cage is cruel for this animal and amounts to mental torture.”

When I wrote the first post about Charla, I sent an e-mail to her brother to ask permission to use one of the photos of Charla from the Web site that’s been set up for her. He was kind enough to send us a few other photos, including the childhood photo of Charla that accompanies this post.

Charla Nash is being treated at the Cleveland Clinic, the same hospital where Connie Culp received this country’s first face transplant. According to Michael J. Nash, Charla has had multiple surgeries, including reconstruction of her cheekbone, eye socket, and nose. She will not regain her eyesight. There have been some complications related to the surgery, such as wound infection that is being treated. Luckily she has not lost her sense of smell and has appreciated the scent of flowers brought into her hospital room.

Charla’s speech is improving but is still distorted at times. She sometimes expresses anger at having to receive medical treatment and has stated she wants to go home. She still doesn’t know the extent of all her injuries. There are times when she’s confused and doesn’t realize she is in the hospital but thinks she is at the home of friends or family. She has been able to take liquids by mouth.

If you would like to write to Charla, visit her Web site at friendsofcharlienash.com. Her brother is printing out all e-mails of encouragement and reading them to her.

And here’s a video of an interview with Charla’s daughter, who appeared on the Today Show on Friday.

Christine Moffa, MS, RN, AJN clinical editor

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2016-11-21T13:28:26+00:00 May 18th, 2009|Nursing|5 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Candice Mottet October 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Great web site. A lot of helpful info here. I’m sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks for your sweat!

  2. Jody Stickney August 10, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Thank you for the update on Charla Nash…

  3. […] a chimpanzee mauling in February of this year. I first wrote a post about her in April and then an update on her condition in May. In April, she had just spoken her first words, her daughter’s name and […]

  4. […] When I wrote the first post about Charla, I sent an e-mail to her brother to ask permission to use one of the photos of Charla from the Web site that’s been set up Read more at […]

  5. Jeannie Arthur May 31, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    What a fabulous post.
    I thought for a moment It was a post of mine, and had to laugh..as I too am an RN(retired due to health issues) and love animals, I am a member of Peta and the American humane society of the USA
    I was toorn between the innocence and the tragic horror that happened to Charla, and blame the owner for Travis’ reaction..how tears fell when he was shot and headed to his bed, with his toys! To die.
    Personally, I would have seen no other choice than to put him down before he could harm Charla..
    And I would have (I carry a legal reg concelled weapon)
    It is ashame both could not have been saved, and whileSandra Herold is too old and too slight of weight to control such an animal let alone give it drugs or wine tocalm him from wanting to do what an animal loves doing…..going outside, to see the sun and tres and sky..go for a ride or ice cream and I guess ms heraold was too lazy to feel like doing this….Charla paid the ultimate price and Travis who could have lived happily with his own kind, or maybe 30 more years or so….
    None of this had to happen.. it just breaks my heart.
    She (Charla) has a wonderful loving family, and we all need to support her as much as we can. The tagic losses she must come to grips with may be too much for anyone to bare.
    If she can, she is truly an amazing woman, and so far has proven that in so many ways.
    She needs out support and love.

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