DARIEN - The Stamford woman mauled by a friend's pet chimpanzee two years ago has been given medical clearance to receive a face and hand transplant. Charla Nash is awaiting the procedure now that doctors have decided she is eligible for the surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The wait is on now for a donor match with the right blood type. A surgeon who treated Nash the day of the mauling says the surgery could potentially restore her sense of smell, touch and make it easier for her to eat. Dr. Christine Hamilton-Hall says there are requirements needed from the donor for Nash, such as similar skin color and texture, as well as having the same blood type. Hospital officials say the Department of Defense will cover the cost of the surgery under a deal that provides face transplants for veterans and some civilians. Hamilton-Hall says she is optimistic that having the transplants will make Nash feel whole again. However, she says these surgeries are risky. Also, Nash will likely have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life. "I don't think people realize how difficult it is to be a transplant recipient," she says.

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