BOSTON (AP) – For the second time in a decade, a New Hampshire woman has a new face.
Carmen Blandin Tarlton, whose face was handicapped by an attack by her ex-husband, became the first American and second in the world to undergo the procedure after her first transplant. Failure began after six years of operation. The transplant from an unnamed donor occurred in July at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The 52-year-old former nurse is expected to resume her normal routine, which all ended when the first transplant failed a year ago.
“I’m very happy,” Tartan told the Associated Press in an exclusive telephone interview from his home in Manchester. She is still recovering from the operation so photos are not being provided to her new face.
“I was gone pain” he said. “This is a new chapter in my life. I have been waiting for almost a year. I am very happy This is what I needed. I got a great match. ”
More than 40 patients worldwide have received face transplants, including 16 in the United States. No American patient had lost his donor face until Taralton.
But in 2018, a Frenchman Whose immune system rejected his donor’s face eight years after his first transplant. The transplanting doctor called Dr. of the Pompidou European Hospital in Paris. Laurent Lantiary said the patient is “doing very well.”
Terlton’s first face transplant Dr. Bohdan Pomhac was hesitant to do another and was in favor of reconstructive surgery instead. But his team became convinced of the quality of a second transplant when Terlton revealed how much the former had improved his life.
“He really wanted to try once more,” said Pomhack, who led the 20-hour, second surgery. A team of about 45 physicians removed the failed implants and then prepared sensory nerves and blood vessels in the neck for surgical connections. The face was then implanted and Tarlan would gain sensory and motor function in the coming months.
Unlike his first transplant, this time around the donor was considered a better tissue match. Due to his previous injuries before the first transplant, 98% of donors were incompatible matches. Nevertheless, the first face led to many cases of acute rejection, in which the body attacks the new face and requires strong drugs to suppress the immune system.
Pomachek described the match as miraculous, “Now, I am very optimistic and hopeful that it will last much longer than the first transplant.” “But, of course, this wishful thinking is speculation. I do not know. She was really lucky. ”
Plastic surgeon Brian Gastman at the Cleveland Clinic, who led his final two face transplants, said Tarleton’s case shows the limitations of these procedures.
“When you look at most organ transplants, there is a shelf life,” Gastman said. “We’re getting to the point where these face transplants are pitting against the maximum number of years a person can be in one.”
Terleton was burned over 80% of her body and blindfolded in 2007 when her husband, Herbert Rodgers, beat her with a baseball bat and dipped her body with lye because she felt She is seeing another man. In 2009, Rodgers pleaded guilty to killing Taralton for a jail sentence of at least 30 years. He died in prison in 2017.
The first transplant changed Taralton’s life. She received strong medications for her pain, took the piano and was able to travel and gave inspirational speeches – often talking about how she had forgiven Rodgers. She became close friends with her 56-year-old woman, the daughter of her first donor, who died of a stroke. A synthetic cornea was also found in his left eye.
But until last year, the face was failing. Due to decreased blood flow to the face, he began to experience fear, stiffness and pain. Black spots appeared on his face. Her eyelids shrunk and her lips began to disappear, making it difficult for her to eat. She was mostly homebound and started taking strong pain medications.
“I couldn’t do anything,” he said. “I was in too much pain.”
She requested the hospital list for another face in October. This process took a very long time, as he was removed from the list for two months due to a coronovirus epidemic. It was added back when the state allowed alternative surgery to resume.
Now that he has his new face, Taralton is hoping to travel once again and deliver an inspirational speech – they will stay on the zoom until he has a coronovirus vaccine. For now, she is still getting accustomed to her new appearance.
“This face is very different from my previous one and I can appreciate it. It’s a different person, “she said, adding the new face allows her to” fit in a little better, don’t stare so easily. “
“Strange. I won’t lie.” I have to get used to it. My sister needs to get used to it. My friends and family have a habit of taking time to be what I look like now. “