Woman Could Have a Second Face Transplant

Henrietta Strickland
September 24, 2019

Face transplants need re-planted again after a particular timeBohdan Pomohac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, said that there are many unknowns and many new things in face transplants.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton, 51, was burned over 80 percent of her body when she was beaten with a baseball bat and doused with industrial strength lye in 2007 when she lived in Vermont.

Six years later, Tarleton underwent a face transplant but now, doctors are saying she may need a second one. However, a male patient in France last year received a second transplant after his body rejected his original donor face eight years after transplant.

"The clinical team remains focused on maintaining Carmen's quality of life", a spokesperson for Brigham and Women's Hospital said in a statement.

Tarleton, who lives in Manchester, N.H., underwent the first procedure at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where she is now being evaluated for the possible second transplant.

Tarleton is a musician, author and public speaker.

However final month, physicians found that some blood vessels to her face had narrowed and closed, inflicting facial tissue to die.

For years, the contours of her new face have swollen in rejection episodes that doctors successfully treated.

But many organ transplants only have limited lifespans, her doctors acknowledged. "It's really not realistic to hope faces are going to last [the patient's] lifetime".

Dr. Brian Gastman, a transplant surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, which did the first USA face transplant 11 years ago, said more patients are starting to experience chronic rejection.

"We all know we are in uncharted waters", she told the Boston Globe.

She underwent the first procedure in 2013, years after she was burned by the chemical lye, which her estranged husband poured onto her during a horrific attack. But she is courageous enough to say that though in unchartered waters, she will go through the catastrophic failure rather than giving up.

For instance, some transplant participants experience infections after the operation or side effects of the drugs they have to take to suppress their immune systems. But other issues have arisen.

Aside from the setback with her face, she was left nearly blind after a synthetic cornea transplanted into her left eye failed recently. She applied for a guide dog.

"These are not common things to go wrong, but when things go wrong, you have to deal with it", she said.

Still, the transplant has relieved great pain for Tarleton, who suffered from neck scars that made it hard to move her head.

However six years on, the transplant is failing.

She realized to play the piano and banjo, wrote a memoir and has spoken out about her expertise the world over in effect.

Carmen added: 'I will get back to where I was.

She also spends time at her piano, where she belts out songs like The Eagles' classic "Desperado," uncertain of which face will greet her grandchildren in the future.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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