Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Thetford Woman's Face Transplant 'Heaven Sent'

Courtesy Brigham and Women's Hospital

A Thetford woman who received a face transplant two months ago made her first public appearance today.

44 year old Carmen Blandin Tarleton was severely burned six years ago when her estranged husband attacked her with industrial strength lye.

Tarleton spoke at a press conference at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where the surgery was performed.

The difference between Tarleton’s badly disfigured face before the transplant and her new face is striking.

"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."

Although it will take months for the healing to finish and before Tarleton will feel the full benefits of the surgery, she says the improvement for her has been immediate, particularly in relieving her constant pain.

“It’s just been heaven sent,” Tarleton says.  “I’m so much more comfortable today than I have ever been in the last six years.  If what I had today never changed, I’m fine, I’m good.”

The daughter of the donor also appeared with Tarleton. 

Marinda Righter, describes her mother,  Cheryl Denelli Righter of  North Adams, Massachusetts as a “dyed in the wool hippie with a passion for social justice” and a “true example of living a selfless life”. 

Righter died of a stroke in February. 

Her daughter describes the procedure that transplanted her mother’s face to Tarleton’s as a miracle. “I get to feel my mother’s skin again,” said Righter.  “I get to see my mother’s freckles and through you I get to see my mother live on.”

Tarleton says she wants others to draw strength from her experience. She’s written a book and plans to do speaking engagements to talk about the lessons she’s learned. 

Tarleton has returned home since the surgery, although she continues to travel to Boston for treatment.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
Latest Stories