Twin Has Power to Decide for Chimp Attack Victim

The twin brother of the Stamford woman who was mauled by a 200-pound chimpanzee last week now has the power to make medical decisions for her and to sue on her behalf if the family chooses.

Michael Nash Tuesday was named temporary conservator of his sister, Charla Nash, 55, who was critically injured on Feb. 16 when a chimp owned by her friend, Sandra Herold of Stamford, attacked her.

Charla Nash remains in a medically induced coma and suffered devastating injuries during the 12-minute attack by the chimpanzee.

In the court order, Stamford Probate Judge Gerald M. Fox Jr. said Nash was in grave condition at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio with serious injuries to her face, head and hands. The conservator is needed to make medical decisions after consulting with doctors, according to court papers.

Also in court papers, Michael Nash said the conservator status was needed to protect his sister's ability to recover damages in future litigation.

Neither he nor the family's attorney, Matthew Newman, would comment on whom they might sue.

"We're pursuing all potential legal avenues," Newman said.

Four teams of surgeons at Stamford Hospital operated on Nash for more than seven hours to stabilize her before she was transferred last week to the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, known for performing the country’s first face transplant.

The family is gathering photos of Nash to send to the Cleveland Clinic for possible reconstructive surgery, Capt. Richard Conklin said. Specifics on what kind of treatment Nash will receive have not been released.

Authorities have not said whether Herold will face criminal charges. Connecticut state law allowed her to own the chimp as a pet.

The animal had starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola, made an appearance on the "Maury Povich Show" and took part in a television pilot.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House passed a bill, 323-95, to ban the transport of monkeys and apes across state lines for the purpose of selling them as pets. The measure now goes to the Senate for a vote.

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