Carmen Tarleton, whose estranged husband, Herb Rogers poured industrial-strength lye over her in a horrific domestic abuse case, revealed her new face after doctors performed a face transplant.
In 2007, witnessed by her two daughters, who were 12 and 14, Carmen Tarleton was attacked by her estranged husband with lye.
More than 80 percent of her body was burned. Doctors saved her life by putting her into a medically induced coma and performing more than 50 surgeries. But at that time, nothing could be done with her severely scared face.
Her face was so scarred and disfigured, children would run away from her and news stations would have to advise viewer discretion whenever they did a story about her.
Finally, four years later, plastic surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston made a suggestion, a facial transplant might work. He recently done the first facial transplant in the United States and thought it might work for her.
In December, Tarleton was approved to undergo the face transplant. It took 14 months to find a donor, because she had so many antibodies in her immune system from the blood transfusions and surgeries used to treat her injuries.
In February, more than two dozen doctors at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and 15-hours later, she became the sixth person to undergo a full facial transplant with new facial skin, including neck, nose, lips, facial muscles arteries and nerves.
An animation of the procedure done by the hospital shows how surgeons removed her skin, muscles, tendons, and nerves, replacing them with those of the donor.
“This is a momentous opportunity in my life and I want to convey to my donors family what a great gift I’ve been given,” Tarleton said. “I will do everything in my power to ensure a successful outcome.”
Dr. Pomahac said the medical team is equally happy after the operation, “Everyday we enjoy walking by her and seeing her getting better but we are also thinking constantly what could go wrong. There is no eureka moment, it’s really a few months later when the return of function comes and the patient is doing well and we are beyond most of the risks.”
The doctor said Tarleton can expect to regain almost full functionality in her face.
“She will not be completely normal but what we will see is 80 percent of normal function, 75 percent,” he said. “It depends on the patient, and she still had residual movement… so she should have a better result than someone who had completely nothing.”
But he added that her recovery will take some time. “Return of sensation will take about three months, motor function about 3-6 months and she’ll have a full return of functionality after a year or so. Slow improvements typically continue afterwards as well,” Dr. Pomahac said.
Carmen Tarleton still remains completely blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. Doctors will assess the improvement in motor function around her eye in a few months to determine how much work needs to be done to regain the function of her eyelids.
In December, before her transplant and while her face was still badly disfigured, Tarleton started to take piano lessons from a teacher named Sheldon Stein. He fell in love with her. “He was able to see me through my scars,” Carmen Tarleton said.
Carmen Tarleton wrote a book and was published in March titled, “Overcome: Burned, Blinded, and Blessed.” describing what happened to her and the recovery.
Carmen Tarleton New Face Animation
Carmen Tarleton Face Transplant
A Vermont woman whose face was disfigured in a lye attack has received a face transplant. Doctors at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital say 44-year-old Carmen Blandin Tarleton underwent the surgery earlier this month.
Carmen Tarleton Lye Attack Survivor
Carmen Tarleton Shares Survival Story at the Woodstock , Vermont Rotary Club in 2011.