5 Years After Face Transplant, Body Rejecting Tissue
Doctors were trying to wean her off anti-rejection drugs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 4, 2016 3:59 PM CDT
In this Feb. 20, 2015 file photo, Charla Nash smiles as her care worker washes her face at her apartment in Boston.   (Charles Krupa)

(Newser) – The Connecticut woman who underwent a face transplant five years ago after being attacked by a chimpanzee is back in a Boston hospital after doctors discovered her body is rejecting tissue from the transplant, the AP reports. Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said Wednesday that Charla Nash is experiencing a "moderate rejection episode" and the transplant is not in jeopardy. Nash was taking part in an experiment in which doctors had tried to wean her off the anti-rejection drugs she had been taking since the 2011 operation. Anti-rejection drugs can have serious side effects, and the military had funded the experiment in hopes of using the findings to help soldiers who had transplants after returning from war.

Pomahac said doctors have removed Nash from the experiment and put her back on her original medication. He said she will most likely leave the hospital in the next day or two. "We expect this rejection episode to be resolved within the coming week," he said in a statement. Nash recently discovered several unusual patches on her face, said Shelly Sindland, her publicist. Doctors on Monday did a biopsy and determined her body was rejecting the transplant, she said. "I gave it my all and know my participation in the study will still be beneficial," Nash said in a statement to the AP. "I'd do it all over again, if I could. The men and women serving our country are the true heroes." The immunosuppression drugs that transplant patients are typically given for the rest of their lives carry such risks as cancer, viral infections, and kidney damage.