Carmen Blandin Tarleton, a 44-year-old registered nurse and mother of two from Thetford, Vermont, has been living with a face extensively disfigured after her estranged husband doused her with industrial strength lye. The attack in June 2007 left burns on more than 80 percent of Tarleton’s body.
This month Tarleton became the fifth person ever to receive a full face transplant at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The 15-hour surgery involved more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and technicians, surgeons transplanted neck, nose, lips, facial muscles, arteries and nerves.
In her book, "Overcome: Burned, Blinded and Blessed, Tarleton described the 2007 experience as "one of the most horrific attacks a human being could suffer." Her ex had also been beaten her with a baseball bat and in her book she talks about "the best, and worst corners of the human heart."
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac and the Brigham team held a press conference this morning to go over details of the transplant. Dr. Pomahac performed the first full face transplant in the United States in 2011. To date, BWH has performed five face transplants.
Tarleton posted her thanks to her blog this morning:
"I could never have imagined the overwhelming feelings I encountered after my surgery. I could freely move my head from side to side without the usual scar discomfort I have felt for almost six years now. I cried with such a deep appreciation for the persons truly responsible for giving me this gift: this new physical freedom.
I am so grateful for all that have been watching over me with such tenderness and loving care. I know how truly blessed I am, and will have such a nice reflection in the mirror to remind myself what selfless really is. Thank you, thank you, thank you."