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The donor transplant recipient's face no longer succeeds



A woman who was badly burned in a domestic violence attack in Vermont is hoping for a second facial transplant after doctors recently discovered tissue damage that will likely result in the loss of her donor face.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton, 51, was burned over 80% of her body in 2007 when her estranged husband smeared her body with alkali after beating her with a baseball bat. Six years ago, she received a facial transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where she was evaluated for a possible second transplant.

Tarleton, who now lives in Manchester, New York, told the Boston Globe that she had no regrets for a transplant because it dramatically improved her life. She learned to play piano and banjo, wrote a memoir, and spoke with many bands about your life. She lost 20 pounds and started walking five miles a week.

"I had such a low quality of life before my face transplant. Do I want to last 1

0 or 20 years? Of course, ”she said.

More than 40 patients worldwide have received transplants, including 15 in the United States. None of the American patients lost their donors, but last year a Frenchman whose immune system rejected his donor face eight years after his first transplant suffered a second.

Tarleton physicians noted that most organ transplants have a limited life span. But her situation is a reminder that, despite its success in this area, face transplantation is experimental and is still a young science with many unanswered questions about the benefits of long-term risks.

"There are so many unknowns and so many new things. "Dr. Bogdan Pomahak, director of plastic surgery transplant at Brigham and Women and one of Tarleton's surgeons, said. Still, he said, "It is really not realistic to hope that individuals will continue the life of the patient."

Brian Gastman, a transplant operator at the Cleveland Clinic who made the first transplant in the United States 11 years ago, said more patients are beginning to experience chronic rejection. "We all believe that every patient is likely to need a re-transplant," he says.

After her transplant in February 2013, Tarleton has multiple episodes of rejection when her new face becomes swollen and flushed. These episodes were successfully treated, but last month, doctors discovered that some of the blood vessels in her face narrowed and closed, causing the tissue of her face to die. If the damage progresses slowly, Tarleton may be on the waiting list for another donor. In the worst case scenario, the tissue will die quickly and doctors will have to remove it and reconstruct its original face.

"We all know we're in uncharted waters," Tarleton said. "I prefer not to have to suffer catastrophic damage."

It will take at least a month to evaluate Tarleton and decide on a second transplant, doctors said. Aside from the anxiety with her face, the synthetic cornea recently transplanted into his left eye has failed, leaving her almost blind.

"These are not common things that go wrong, but when things go wrong, you have to deal with it," she said. "I'll go back to where I was. How, I don't know. 19659013] window.fbAsyncInit = function () {
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