Transplant fixes face burned by lye

Ex-husband used strong chemical in 2007 attack
2013-05-02T00:00:00Z Transplant fixes face burned by lyeThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

BOSTON - A Vermont woman revealed her new face Wednesday, six years after her ex-husband disfigured her by dousing her with industrial-strength lye, and said she went through "what some may call hell" but has found a way to be happy.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton of Thetford had face-transplant surgery at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital in February and spoke publicly for the first time at a news conference at the hospital Wednesday.

"I'm now in a better place, mentally and emotionally, than I ever could have imagined six years ago," Tarleton said. "I want to share my experience with others, so they may find that strength inside themselves to escape their own pain."

In 2007, the 44-year-old mother of two was attacked by her now ex-husband Herbert Rodgers, who believed she was seeing another man. Police say he went to the house looking for that man, then went into a fury directed toward Tarleton, striking her with a bat and pouring lye from a squeeze bottle onto her face.

When police arrived, Tarleton was trying to crawl to a shower to wash away the chemical. It already had distorted her face.

In 2009, Rodgers pleaded guilty to maiming Tarleton in exchange for a prison sentence of at least 30 years.

The hospital said that during the face-transplant surgery, more than 30 surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses worked for more than 15 hours to replace her skin, muscles, tendons and nerves.

The face donor was a Williamstown, Mass., woman, Cheryl Denelli Righter, who died of a sudden stroke, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Righter's daughter, Marinda, told Tarleton on Wednesday that she looked beautiful, adding that she was certain her mother had somehow picked Tarleton. "They are both mothers; they are both survivors; they are both beacons of light," she said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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