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Vermont Mother Receives Face Transplant in Boston

Update Date: Feb 27, 2013 10:47 AM EST

Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA performed its fifth face transplant within the span of four years.  Carmen Blandin Tarleton, a 44-year-old mother of two, received a full facial transplant earlier this month after being attacked by her ex-husband in 2007. Tarleton, a registered nurse from Vermont, was drenched with lye, an alkaline solution that burned over 80 percent of Tarleton's body. She was not expected to survive the burns, but after extensive care, she got the treatment she needed to move on with her life.

Dr. Bodhan Pomahac headed the team of 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and technicians. The team, known for its success with face transplants, spent 15 hours in surgery repairing and replacing facial skin from the nose and lips, facial muscles, arteries and nerves.  They used a donor's facial skin and tissues for this long process. Tarleton is currently recovering from the extensive surgery and more details regarding her condition and surgery will be provided by the hospital shortly.

The Brigham and Women's Hospital was the first hospital within the new England area to perform a face transplant and the second hospital in the United States to take on a facial transplant surgery. The first transplant at the hospital was a partial facial transplant for Jim Maki in April 2009. Maki's face was severely burned after falling onto an electrical rail at the Boston subway station. Maki's surgery was 17 hours long as Dr. Pomahac and his team of 35 specialists worked on repairing core areas of the face.

Dr. Pomahac was the first doctor in the United States and the third overall in the world to perform a full facial transplant. The patient, Dallas Wiens was burned by a high voltage wire in 2008. After numerous tests and procedures, Wiens was considered a good candidate for a facial transplant. Wiens had lost his eyesight, lips, nose, and eyebrows during the incident. In March 2011, Dr. Pomahac and a team of 30 medical professionals successfully repaired Wiens' face, giving him his sense of smell back. After the 15 hour-long surgery, Wiens' eyesight could not be recovered but the surgery was groundbreaking for future burn patients. 

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