A 53-year-old woman became the first American to successfully undergo a second face transplant.
Carmen Tartelon showed off her new face as she thanked the family of the donor for giving the ‘biggest gift’ during such a difficult time.
“Every week, I get better and better. I’m excited to see what life’s gonna bring me now. I have a lot of patience,” Tartelon said in an interview with NBC.
It was in 2007 when Tartelon’s ex-husband burned her and left her severely disfigured.
Herbert Rodgers used a baseball bat to beat her before dousing her body with lye as he thought that she was cheating on him.
Rodgers pleaded guilty to disfiguring Tartleton in exchange for a prison sentence of at least 30 years. He died in jail in 2017.
Tartleton received her first transplant in 2013. However, doctors discovered seven years later that the body started rejecting the donor tissue.
Her first donor was 56-year-old Cheryl Denelli Righter who passed away from a stroke.
“When my first face transplant failed, I basically went back to looking disfigured,” she expressed. “I didn’t have eyelids anymore. I lost my lips.”
Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, who did her transplants, initially hesitated to do a second one and favored performing reconstruction surgery instead.
But his team became convinced to do the second transplant after Tarteton described how much the first improved her life.
“She really wanted to try one more time,” Pomahac said.
Tartleton has been receiving treatment since undergoing the second face transplant at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Unlike the first one, the second transplant was considered a much better tissue match.
She virtually met and thanked the family of her donor, 36-year-old Casey Harrington Labrie, a mother who tragically died of a fentanyl overdose.
“In the most difficult time, you gave me the biggest gift anybody could have given me,” she told the family.
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