Carmen Blandin Tarleton is somebody worthy to be mentioned and written about.
She is an exemplification of a person, who despite being physically, mentally and emotionally tortured, after having been brutally disfigured, continued to be brave, hopeful and a great inspiration to others.
Tarleton’s calvary started in June 2007 when her estranged and enraged husband, Herbert Rodgers, attacked her after failing to find the man he thought and believed his wife was seeing. He struck her with a baseball bat and later doused her with industrial-strength lye (caustic soda) that inflicted chemical burns over 80 per cent of her body, including her face.
When police arrived, Tarleton was trying to crawl to a shower to wash away the chemical. It already had distorted her face.
During the past 5 years she has undergone 55 surgeries.
During the face transplant surgery at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in February, 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, Massachusetts, woman named Cheryl Denelli Righter who died of a sudden stroke.
Righter’s daughter, Marinda, told Tarleton that she looked beautiful, adding 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.
Righter said that after seeing Tarleton for the first time, she felt overjoyed, saying, “I get to feel my mother’s skin again, I get to see my mother’s freckles, and through you, I get to see my mother live on.”
In her first public statement during a news conference, Tarleton, a former transplant nurse herself, had this to say: “I’m now in a better place, mentally and emotionally, than I ever could have imagined six years ago. I want to share my experience with others, so they may find that strength inside themselves to escape their own pain.”
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.