Vt. woman recovering from succesful face transplant

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February 27, 2013, 6:56 pm
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(NECN: Jackie Bruno) - A Vermont woman disfigured in a 2007 lye attack received a new face transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"She is without a doubt one of the most inspirational people I have ever met," one doctor said of Carmen Blandin Tarleton, the patient.

Inspirational is an understatement.

Tarleton's struggle began in 2007 when her estranged husband attacked her. He beat her with a baseball bat and poured industrial strength lye all over her body, burning 80 percent of it. Doctors didn't expect her to survive - but she did, pushing forward as best as she could.

Gone were her delicate features and most of her beautiful brown hair. But most troubling was the loss of function.

"When you can't pucker your lips to kiss somebody, when you can't do that, you can't blink, we all take that for granted and I did," Tarleton told us in 2011.

It will take months for Tarleton to recover, but doctors say she should regain about 80 percent of her facial function.

"Carmen is recovering very well. She's in great spirits. She's working hard to get stronger," Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation.

Although she couldn't attend Wednesday's news conference in person, her sister was there to read a statement.

"I feel great appreciation and gratitude for the gift I've been given. This greatly improved my quality of life and comfort level," Kesstan Blandin said.

She offered thanks to her donor's family and to her own. As the mother of two daughters, she's looking forward to life after her recovery is completed, just as she did in 2011.

"There’s happiness on the other side of these kinds of situations and we don’t need a big negative situation to ruin the rest of our lives," she told us in 2011.

Tarleton has since written a book and plans to update people via her blog - all part of her mission to help others find the light in their lives.

Tags: Boston, vermont, face transplant, Bohdan Pomahac, Jackie Bruno, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Carmen Blandin Tarleton
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