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Face-transplant recipient shows off new visage

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Vermont woman showed off her successful face transplant Wednesday six years after she was disfigured by lye.

Carmen Tarleton was attacked by her then-husband in 2007. He suspected Tarleton of cheating on him, hit her with a bat and poured industrial-strength lye on her face.

Tarleton, 44, had face transplant surgery at a Boston hospital in February and spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday.

Her husband pleaded guilty in 2009 and will serve at least 30 years in prison.

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.

Tarleton is legally blind and read her remarks from a tablet. She thanked Righter's family for what she called "a tremendous gift" that's greatly alleviated the physical pain she'd felt daily.

Tarleton referred to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and said the city is "facing the challenges of pain and forgiveness."

"There is a lot to learn and take from horrific events that happen," Tarleton said. "I want others to know that they need not give up on feeling (like) themselves when tragedy strikes, but instead they can make a choice to find the good and allow that to help them heal."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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