The 57-year-old Connecticut woman, who became the focus of the nation’s horror when she was viciously mauled by her friend’s pet chimpanzee in February 2009, is waiting for a generous family willing to sign away a loved one’s nose, lips, brow and chin — all the familiar things most of us take for granted in the mirror each morning.
For that to happen, the body of a 50-something female organ donor with Nash’s blood type and skin tone must become available, usually as a result of a terrible accident or some other untimely death. But because facial transplant surgery is so new, few people are even aware that faces can be donated.
“Yesterday’s news is good because more people now realize that becoming a face donor requires additional steps beyond checking off a box on your driver’s license,” said John Orr, a spokesman for Nash.
New England Organ Bank spokesman Sean Fitzpatrick said face donations are entirely different from liver, heart or lung donations. “The other organs are internal, and not outwardly representative of the donation itself,” he said. “The (donor) family will need to decide if this is something they want to participate in.”
And unlike other organs, Fitzpatrick said, “There’s not a national list of faces.”
A compatible donation could make Nash, who tops the list at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the nation’s first woman to receive a full face transplant.
“She’s very excited, and she’s really happy about how well things went for Dallas Wiens,” Orr said. Wiens, 25, of Texas, received the nation’s first full face transplant at Brigham and Women’s last week, after losing most of his facial features in a 2008 high-voltage accident.
Once a donor for Nash is found, she plans to share the experience, Orr said. She and her family have agreed to let NBC film her operation and recovery.
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