carmen tarleton

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Above, left: Carmen before the attack
Above, right: Carmen after the attack.
Below: Carmen after face transplant. 

Carmen Tarleton, whose then-estranged husband attacked her with industrial-strength lye that disfigured her face, recently revealed the results of a face transplant at a news conference.

The 44-year-old former nurse and mother of two from Vermont underwent surgery in February, nearly six years after the attack that left her with burns to 80 per cent of her body. Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a renowned Czech surgeon, gave back her life through a full facial transplant. The procedure involved medically induced coma and over 50 surgeries prior to the transplant.

Because Tarleton’s immune system had so many antibodies from previous blood transfusions and surgeries, it took 14 months to find a donor. 

The transplant, which gave her new facial skin, muscles, nerves and tendons, took 15 hours and a medical team of more than 30.

After the procedure, her body began to reject the transplant and if it continued, doctors may have had to remove it. However, they managed to avoid rejection with a reduced dose of a potentially hazardous drug.

Tarleton can now smile, and expects to be able to make other facial expressions in the future. A pain in her neck has also subsided. She remains blind in one eye, and will need follow-up operations and a lifetime of medication.

Emotionally, Carmen has recovered and is now giving inspirational talks and has even published a book; “Overcome: Burned, Blinded, and Blessed”, and has saidshe has forgiven her ex-husband, Herbert Rodgers, for the attack. 

Tarleton met the daughter of donor Cheryl Denelli-Righter for the first time a couple weeks ago.

“I get to feel my mother’s skin again and see her freckles and through you I get to see my mother live on. This is truly a blessing,” she said.

Sources: CNN, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, the Associated Press.