On November 13, 2013, two Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) patients and their doctor, Bohdan Pomahac, MD, appeared on the Katie show. Full face transplant recipients Dallas Weins and Carmen Blandin Tarleton shared their stories of courage with Katie Couric, describing their burn injuries and their road to recovery. Carmen’s life will be forever intertwined with Marinda Righter, who joined her on the show to remember her late mother, whose tissue donation made Carmen’s new face possible.
Pomahac, the plastic surgery transplantation director at BWH, has performed five of the seven face transplant surgeries in the U.S. Describing the 14- to 24-hour operation, he said, “We are trying to transplant not just the facial features, but all the underlying structures, which include the bone and also muscles and nerves that power the face and provide sensation so the whole face can become the patient’s own.”
Donor contributions help to make Pomahac’s life-altering work possible. He leads a team of 30 people to perform these complicated surgeries, which require extensive pre- and post-operative planning and care. Because of donor support, Pomahac is able to continue exploring what is possible in face and limb transplantation to help improve people’s lives, and for that he said he feels “incredibly fortunate.”
To hear Dallas and Carmen’s inspirational stories, please watch the interviews below. Also, to learn more about Carmen and her face transplant donor’s daughter, Marinda, please read here. (If the videos do not display, please visit the Katie Couric website to view them.)