A Thetford woman disfigured in a 2007 lye attack has received a face transplant at a Boston hospital.
Doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital called the procedure to give 44 year-old Carmen Tarleton a more functional face a ‘tremendous success.’
Tarleton is no stranger to Brigham And Women’s. She was airlifted there after her estranged husband broke into her house, beat her and sprayed lye on her. With burns over 80% of her body, she was not expected to live.
Since then Tarleton has undergone dozens of surgeries. The most dramatic took place this month when a team of more than 30 people took 15 hours to perform a full face transplant, using the skin and underlying tissue from a donor.
Doctor Bohdan Pomahac is director of Plastic Surgery Transplantation at the hospital.
At a Wednesday press conference in Boston Pomahac said, "Carmen is recovering very well. She’s in great spirits, she’s working hard to get better. She’s without a doubt one of the most inspirational people I have ever met."
Pomahac says Tarleton is nearly out of post-operative danger, and he described her reaction to the surgery.
"She was very pleased. I think probably the most immediate reactions were from the family when we brought her to the intensive care unit for the initial couple of days. I think she looks amazing, but I’m biased," he said.
Pomahac says the surgery will relieve the daily pain and restore much of the facial function Tarleton lost in the attack.
In a 2011 interview Tarleton told VPR that she hoped a face transplant would give her the ability to use her eyelids and her lips.
"I live with myself every day and my face is difficult to live with because it just doesn’t function," she explained. " There’s a lot of things that go into the face transplant and for me I only see possible improvement."
The face transplant is the fifth to be performed by Brigham And Women’s.
It took place earlier this month, but hospital officials aren’t releasing the specific date in order to protect the privacy of the donor’s family.
Writing Wednesday on her blog, Tarleton said she was overwhelmed with emotion following the transplant, thanking the donor family and her medical team for "giving me this gift: this new physical freedom."