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Lawyer: Chimpanzee victim seeking face, hand transplant

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- An Ohio hospital has told the family of a Connecticut woman mauled and blinded by a chimpanzee a year ago that she is not a candidate for a face and hand transplant.

Charla Nash's family is looking into alternative facilities after the Cleveland Clinic said it could not do both transplants, family attorney Bill Monaco told The Associated Press on Monday. He said the transplants have to be done simultaneously and come from the same donor.

The 200-pound chimpanzee went berserk in February after its owner asked Nash to help lure it back into her house. The animal ripped off Nash's hands, nose, lips and eyelids.

The hospital, which in 2008 performed the nation's first face transplant but has not done hand transplants, said Monday that Nash has made significant progress in her recovery and more surgeries are planned to further help her regain some independence.

''However, due to the complexity of her injuries, the medical team has concluded she is not a candidate for transplantation at this time,'' the hospital said in a statement.

The clinic has not ruled out the possibility of some type of collaboration with another hospital, Monaco said.

Nash's family is researching the possibilities of the transplants at a few other hospitals in the United States and one in Canada, Monaco said.

''It will significantly improve her quality of life,'' Monaco said.

A face transplant would help Nash smell, breath and eat, while a hand transplant would help her be more independent, Monaco said. Nash has great difficulty eating and mostly uses a straw, he said.

Even if Nash was declared a candidate for the transplants, the surgery would not be done for years, Monaco said.

In April, dozens of doctors working in teams over 30 hours performed the world's first simultaneous partial-face and double-hand transplant in France on a 30-year-old burn victim. The man died in June after suffering a heart attack during follow-up surgery.