Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another Face Transplant: Good News

"Chimp Attack Victim's New Face 'Simply Beautiful' "
Karlie Pouliot, (June 10, 2011)

"Steve Nash described his sister's new face as 'simply beautiful.'

"He was talking about his younger sister, Charla Nash, who was viciously mauled two years ago in Connecticut by her friend’s pet chimpanzee. The attack left Nash blinded, without hands, a nose, lips and eyelids.

" 'Two years, three months and 225[!] days have passed since Charla was viciously attacked,' Nash said at press conference in Boston, Friday. 'Our family is deeply indebted to all who have gotten her to this day… we thank the donor and her family for giving Charla a new face and hands, and we mourn the loss of your loved one and share your sadness. Your incredible gift to Charla is generous and kind, and we thank you for your precious gift.'..."

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that Charla has a new palate and teeth, and will be able to chew food.

Her brother says she's looking forward to eating "real" food again. So far, she's been eating specially-prepared food. The siblings have plans: "...'We have a hot dog stand in Poughkeepsie she wants to go to and a favorite pizza place… those are foremost on her mind… eating decently and eating a meal is very key,'..."

The article says that nerves and muscles are growing into place in Charla's new face, so she'll be able to express emotion - be able to smile.

The bad news is that the article doesn't mention vision. Our eyes are a very complex set of organs, so the Lemming figures the new face doesn't bring a working visual system with it. The medical team attached new hands to Charla's arms, but they didn't last. She developed pneumonia, and blood flow in the new hands was "compromised."

Face Transplants - New(ish) Procedure

Maybe you've read about more than one "first" face transplant. It's a very new surgical procedure: so far about a dozen have been done, around the world: in America, China, France, and Spain.

Each transplant has it's own unique features, so the Lemming figures that each can be called the "first" in one way or another. Folks are, quite understandably, impressed with each team's achievement, so the Lemming isn't surprised that their accomplishments are re-told as the "first" each time.

Face transplants are the latest in a growing list of medical techniques that replace damaged or missing parts. The Lemming remembers the first time a limb was reattached, back in 1962:

"May 23, 1962: Give That Kid a Hand!"
Randy Alfred, This Day in Tech, Wired (May 23, 2011)

"1962: A team of 12 doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reattaches the severed arm of an injured boy. It is the first successful reattachment of a human limb.

"Freckle-faced Everett 'Red' Knowles had been trying to hop a freight train in Somerville, Massachusetts. He was thrown against a stone wall that ripped his right arm off cleanly at the shoulder. Knowles walked away from the tracks, using his left hand to hold his right arm inside a bloody sleeve. A police ambulance rushed the 12-year-old across the Charles River to Boston, where emergency-room staff discovered the extent of his injury...."

Folks had been setting bones for millennia, and surgeons had sewn up partially-severed limbs before 'Red' Knowles walked away with his arm - and we've come a long way since 1962.

It's not just transplants. Right now, the Lemming's walking with artificial hip sockets, plastic mesh that kept the abdominal wall in place after another operation, and enjoying a body chemistry that needed tweaking.

There's more to come: "Never Heard of a BCI (Brain-Computer Interface)? You Will" (April 20, 2010).

So, does the Lemming see nothing but rosy skies and Inevitable Upward Progress ahead? Of course not. There are going to be problems. (December 2, 2009) People misuse things. Some people, sometimes. But people use things, too, and on the whole the Lemming would rather live now, than in the 'good old days.'

Related posts:


Brigid said...

I find this phrase very strange. 'Two years, three months and 225 days'

Doesn't that 225 days add nearly another seven and a half months? It just seems like an awkward way to break things down.

Not that you can do anything about it. You were quoting the article. But I really wonder about it.

Brian Gill said...


Agreed. very strange. My guess is that it's a key-entry error: akin to the 'stutter' that I do now and again.

The original copy may have been intended to read "...and 25 days...." Or, something else. ;)

I don't think this is the case: but if the syntax of the speaker wasn't so contemporary, and apparently using American English, I might argue that this was a case of someone emphasizing the length of time, by saying something like "a year, a month, a day, and [another] year." But, like I said, I don't think this is the case.

Thanks for the heads-up. I've inserted a [!] after the dubious date.

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory