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As Face Transplant Fails, Woman Hopes for Another

'I've done many, many things' because of the first procedure, patient says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2019 6:48 PM CDT
Carmen Tarleton embraces her surgeon in Boston in 2013.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(Newser) – "I've done many, many things because I had a face transplant," Carmen Tarleton said. That has helped her decide what to do now that the transplant is failing: "It is my wish and my choice to be retransplanted." Tarleton's estranged husband attacked her with industrial strength lye in 2007; she was left blind, with more than 80 percent of her body burned, WMUR reports. Tarleton had a synthetic cornea transplant in her left eye in 2009, per USA Today. And the New Hampshire woman had a full face transplant in 2013, the fifth in the nation at the time. Tarleton now is being evaluated at a Boston hospital for another transplant, after doctors found damaged tissue. Her body is rejecting her transplanted face.

No American patients have lost their donor faces, but doctors say they don't know how long transplanted faces will last, per the Boston Globe; it's still an experimental procedure. "There are so many unknowns and so many new things we are discovering," one said. Tarleton doesn't regret going through the ordeal of the transplant. "It has given me incredible amounts of healing in many ways," she said. She has written a memoir and become an inspirational speaker, and learned to play the piano and banjo. She began walking to the laundromat and grocery store. “I’m coping well," Tarleton says, "and I have the support I need." (Read more face transplant stories.)

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