Carmen Tarleton, whose then-estranged husband attacked her with industrial-strength lye that disfigured her face, revealed the results of a face transplant at a news conference on Wednesday.
The 44-year-old former nurse and mother of two from Vermont underwent surgery in February, nearly six years after the attack that left her with burns to 80 per cent of her body.
"I have been on this incredible journey for the past six years and receiving this wonderful gift ends this chapter of my life," said Tarleton, quoted in the Daily Mail.
Because Tarleton’s immune system had so many antibodies from previous blood transfusions and surgeries, it took 14 months to find a donor, according to CNN. She had undergone over 50 surgeries in the years prior to the transplant.
The transplant, which gave her new facial skin, muscles, nerves and tendons, took 15 hours and a medical team of more than 30, the Associated Press reported.
After the procedure, her body began to reject the transplant and if it continued, doctors may have had to remove it, the Boston Globe said. They managed to save the day with a reduced dose of a potentially hazardous drug.
Tarleton can now smile, and expects to be able to make other facial expressions in the future. A pain in her neck has also subsided. She remains blind in one eye, and will need follow-up operations and a lifetime of medication.
Tarleton met the daughter of donor Cheryl Denelli-Righter for the first time on Tuesday, the Daily Mail reported.
“I get to feel my mother's skin again and see her freckles and through you I get to see my mother live on. This is truly a blessing,” she said.
Tarleton wrote a book about her experience called "Overcome: Burned, Blinded, and Blessed," and has said she has forgiven her ex-husband, Herbert Rodgers, for the attack.
Rodgers is now serving a minimum of 30 years in prison.
Warning: This gallery contains pre- and post-face transplant images that may be sensitive to some readers
This undated photograph provided by the Brigham and Women's Hospital shows face transplant patient Carmen Blandin Tarleton, right, with her sister Kesstan Blandin, before she was attacked. Tarleton, 44, underwent the face transplant surgery earlier in February 2013. She was doused with industrial-strength lye by her former husband in 2007 and suffered chemical burns over 80 percent of her body. The mother of two wrote a book about her experience that describes her recovery.
This July 2011 handout photograph shows face transplant patient Tarleton before her surgery, at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
In this Aug. 20, 2008 file photo, Carmen Tarleton is interviewed in her home in Thetford, Vt. Tarleton, whose face was disfigured in a lye attack received a face transplant in February, 2013. A team worked 15 hours to transplant the facial skin, including the neck, nose, lips, facial muscles, arteries and nerves.
In this Aug. 20, 2008 file photo, Carmen Tarleton is interviewed in her home in Thetford, Vt.
In this Aug. 20, 2008, file photo, Carmen Tarleton is interviewed in her home in Thetford , Vt.
The plastic surgery transplant team operates on Tarleton at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Doctors applaud after Kesstan Blandin, sister of face transplant patient Carmen Blandin Tarleton, read a statement from her sister at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Feb. 27.
Dr. Bodhan Pomahac, at podium, with his surgical team, speaks to reporters regarding the face transplant of Carmen Blandin Tarleton, pictured left, at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Feb. 27.
Carmen Blandin Tarleton speaks with reporters at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The 44-year-old mother of two underwent the transplant in February after a 2007 attack in which her estranged husband doused her with industrial strength lye, burning more than 80 percent of her body.
Carmen Blandin Tarleton right, is embraced by Marinda Righter, daughter of face donor Cheryl Denelli-Righter, at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. At left is her surgeon, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac.
Carmen Blandin Tarleton embraces her surgeon Dr. Bohdan Pomahac during a news conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
Marinda Righter, daughter of face donor Cheryl Denelli-Righter, holds a photograph of her mother during a news conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
Marinda Righter, daughter of face donor Cheryl Denelli-Righter, embraces recipient Carmen Blandin Tarleton during a news conference at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston,Wednesday, May 1, 2013.