US Woman Is 'Elated' With Second Face Transplant

'The pain I had is gone,' says New Hampshire patient Carmen Blandin Tarleton
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 7, 2020 4:00 PM CDT
US Woman Is 'Elated' With Second Face Transplant
Drs. Kamen V. Vlassalov, front, and Lindsay Wahl lead Carmen Blandin Tarleton to the operating room for her second face transplant last month in Boston.   (J. Kiely Jr./Lightchaser Photography/Brigham and Women's Hospital, via AP)

For the second time in a decade, a New Hampshire woman has a new face. Carmen Blandin Tarleton, whose face was disfigured in an attack by her ex-husband, became the first American and the second person globally to undergo the procedure after her first transplant began to fail after six years. The transplant from an anonymous donor took place at Boston's Brigham and Women’s Hospital in July, the AP reports. The 52-year-old former nurse is expected to resume her normal routine, which all but ended when the first transplant failed a year ago. "I'm elated," Tarleton said from her home in Manchester. "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."

More than 40 patients have received face transplants, including 16 in the US, none of whom had lost their donor faces until Tarleton. In 2018, a Frenchman whose immune system rejected his donor face after eight years received a second transplant; his surgeon said he's doing well. Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, who performed Tarleton's first transplant, favored reconstruction surgery instead of another transplant. But then Tarleton described how much the first transplant improved her life. "She really wanted to try one more time," Pomahac said. A team of around 45 clinicians removed the failing transplant and prepared sensory nerves and blood vessels in the neck for the surgical connection. The face was then transplanted. Tarleton should gain sensory and motor function in the coming months. (More face transplant stories.)

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