Woman badly burned by abusive husband needs second face transplant
A woman who had 80 per cent of her body burned when her estranged husband beat her with a baseball pat and poured corrosive lye all over her body needs a second face transplant.
Carmen Blandin Tarleton, 51, was so severely burned in the horrific attack in Vermont, US, in 2007, that surgeons had to replace her face.
But six years on, the transplant is failing.
Doctors have discovered tissue damage that will likely lead to the loss of her donor face.
Carmen told The Boston Globe she has no regrets about the first transplant at Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston, because it dramatically improved her life.
She learned to play the piano and banjo, wrote a memoir and has spoken out about her experience across the world as a result.
She said: 'I had such a low quality of life prior to my face transplant.
'Do I wish it had lasted 10 or 20 years? Of course.'
More than 40 patients worldwide have received face transplants, including 15 in the United States.
None of the US patients have lost their donor faces, but last year, a French man whose immune system rejected his donor face eight years after his first transplant underwent a second.
Carmen's doctors noted that most transplanted organs have limited life spans and that face transplantation is experimental.
Dr Bohdan Pomahac, director of plastic surgery transplantation at the Brigham, said: 'There are so many unknowns and so many new things we are discovering.
'It's really not realistic to hope faces are going to last (the patient's) lifetime.'
Dr Brian Gastman, a transplant surgeon at the US clinic that conducted the first ever face transplant, added: 'We all believe every patient will likely need a re-transplant.'
Carmen's face has repeatedly grown swollen and red since her transplant in 2013 and on each occasion has been successfully treated.
But last month, physicians discovered that some blood vessels to her face had narrowed and closed, causing facial tissue to die.
If the damage progresses slowly, she could go on the wait list for another donor face.
Under the worst case scenario, the tissue would die quickly, and doctors would have to remove it and reconstruct her original face.
She said: 'We all know we are in uncharted waters. I would rather not have to go through a catastrophic failure.'
Doctors will take about a month to decide whether Carmen is eligible for a second face transplant.
Carmen added: 'I will get back to where I was. How, I don't know. I will get through this.'
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