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Woman Has Trouble with Face Transplant after Being Attacked by Employer’s Chimp

Many people will remember the story of the woman who was attacked by her employer’s pet chimpanzee.  She was viciously attacked by the animal while working in the home, and her entire was face was essentially destroyed.  While this normally would have required a lifetime of wearing protective dressings and pain and suffering, she was the recipient of a full face transplant, which was an experimental procedure at that time.hideface

Since having the procedure after her horrific on-the-job accident, she was required to take drugs know as an anti-rejection agent.  Whenever someone has a transplant, there is a decent chance that the body will think the donor tissue is a foreign object, which essentially it is, and will fight the donor tissue causing the organ transplant to be rejected.  In the case of a face transplant, there is a lot of medication that is required, and that medication has a lot of side effects.

According to a recent news feature from NECN, this woman who was injured on the job is back in Boston, after she experienced a symptoms of transplant rejection.  She was in a drug study paid for by the United States Department of Defense (DOD).  The DOD-funded study was testing out a new drug that was supposed to allow patients to avoid the much more powerful anti-rejection drugs currently being used.

The reason the DOD is interested in finding new drugs like this is to help the many soldiers who were injured in improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and required transplants and suffered massive burns.

Unfortunately, the new drug did not work for her, and she was required to be dropped from the study and go back on her conventional medication. She said she was sorry she can no longer be in the study, because she wanted to help our brave service members if she had the opportunity. Fortunately for her, the doctors at Brigham and Women’ Hospital in Boston say she will fully recover form what they are calling a moderate rejection episode and will be able to keep the transplant face intact.  Doctors also say she learned of the problem that landed her back in the hospital when she felt a lump in her neck.  She went back to her doctor who performed a biopsy and had the tissue submitted for histology.  The laboratory determined that this substance forming the lump was evidence of transplant organ rejection, and not cancer as initially suspected.

While this was clearly an extreme example of a workplace injury in Boston, it does involve the issue of scarring and permanent damage to the face.  Under the workers’ compensation laws in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a worker who suffers permanent scarring to the face, neck, head, or hands, may be entitled to special workers’ compensation benefits in addition to standard benefits.  These special benefits are generally paid to claimants is single lump-sum award as opposed to monthly distribution of benefits is typical in workers’ compensation cases.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Chimp Attack Victim in Boston Hospital After Face-Transplant Complications, NECN, May 5, 2016

More Blog Entries:

Opioid Use in Boston Workers’ Compensation Cases Posing Serious Health Threat, April 10, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog