N.H. Woman Becomes First Person in U.S. to Receive a Second Face Transplant: 'A New Chapter in My Life'
Tarleton, who suffered burns to over 80 percent of her body after her estranged husband doused her with industrial strength lye, received her first face transplant in 2013. Herbert Rodgers, pled guilty in 2009 to maiming Tarleton and was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison, where he died in 2017.
The Brigham and Women’s Hospital said that Tarleton was listed for a second procedure in October 2016 after the small blood vessels in her face became seriously damaged as a result of chronic rejection of her first transplant, causing scarring, tightness and associated pain.
"One can hope for a transplant to last a patient’s lifetime, but realistically speaking, every type of transplant has a finite lifespan," Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, the director of Plastic Surgery Transplantation at the Brigham who also performed Tarleton's first transplant, said in a statement.
"Carmen is progressing and recovering very nicely with this second transplant – she is one of the most resilient patients that I have had the opportunity to care for," Pomahac continued. "We call this procedure live-giving, and we are thrilled to offer her the opportunity to return to the type of life that she so richly deserves."
According to the hospital, Tarleton's second transplant is also unique due to an unusually close tissue match from the donor. The match will help lower her future risk of rejection.
“This will likely serve as a prototype going forward,” Pomahac said. “In addition to the close tissue match, the surgical team paused the transplant approximately 15 hours into the surgery, allowing us to better manage the blood loss, which can interfere with blood clotting during the operation. We completed the surgery the following day, which decreased the time Carmen had to spend in the operating room overall.”
Tarleton is currently recovering from her transplant at her home in Manchester, the Associated Press reported. She recently told the outlet that she's "elated" with how the procedure went.
“The pain I had is gone,” she said. “It’s a new chapter in my life. I’ve been waiting for almost a year. I’m really happy. It’s what I needed."
“This face looks very different than my first one and I can appreciate that. It’s a different person,” Tarleton added. “I’ll have to get used to it. My sister will have to get used to it. It takes a while for my friends and family to get used to what I look like now."
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