U.S. Woman 'Strong' After Full Face Transplant Following Chemical Attack

Category: Society / Feb 28, 2013 10:13AM EDT
A Vermont woman’s life took a traumatic turn back in 2007 when her estranged husband doused her with industrial strength lye, burning over 80 percent of her body. But on Wednesday, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, announced she had received a new face and a new lease on life. 44 year old Carmen Blandin Tarleton, a registered nurse and mother of two, received a full face transplant surgery this month. She received a new neck, nose, and lips along with facial muscles, arteries and nerves from a female donor. She has undergone over 50 surgeries since the brutal attack, including work to restore what is left of her vision. Brigham and Women’s Hospital Director of plastic surgery transplantation said Tarleton’s burns were the worst he had ever seen. "Her burns were the worst I've seen in my career, she was severely burnt over 80 percent of her body unrecognizable to anyone who knew he. Our expectations for Carmen's survival were low but Carmen is a fighter, and fight she did," Dr. Bohdan Pomahac said. Face transplants, although extremely complicated, are becoming more common. This is the fifth face transplant performed at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Tarleton’s transplant surgery took more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and technicians more than 15 hours to complete the operation. "There's typically no 'Eureka' moment rather a few months later when we started to enjoy really the most, the return on function, and when the patients are doing well, when they're beyond the most of their risk because they are typically injured after the post-operative period of time," said Dr. Pomahac, praising Carmen's recovery and his team's performance in the operating room. Tarleton's new face is still a mystery, but her sister shared a letter from her post surgery. "My spirits are high. I feel really good and happy, this is a momentous opportunity in my life and I want to convey to the donor's family what a great gift they've given to me. And although there is so much to go I feel strong and I am confident I have the strength to deal with whatever comes my way," read Kesstan Blandin. Herbert Rodgers, Tarleton’s estranged husband, plead guilty in 2009 and is now serving a minimum of 30 years in prison. Video Source: Reuters