Daughter of face transplant donor meets recipient

Cheryl Denelli Righter carmen tarleton face transplant boston brigham and womens
Cheryl Denelli Righter, left, was an organ and tissue donor. Her face went to Carmen Blandin Tarleton, right, who received a face transplant in February 2013 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Credit: Handout and Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Marinda Righter’s mother is dead, but on Wednesday she got to touch and kiss her mother’s face again. 

Righter’s mother, Cheryl Denelli Righter, was an organ and tissue donor. After her death, her face was transplanted to Carmen Blandin Tarleton at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in February.

On Wednesday, Righter spoke along with the woman who now wears her mother’s face.

“I was instantly drawn to Carmen just sitting there, peaking through the window … We hugged and really hugged it out and didn’t let go for a while. It was magical to say the least,” said Righter a Western Massachusetts native. “I felt overjoyed. I get to feel my mother’s skin again. I get to see my mother’s freckles and through [Tarleton] I get to see my mother live on. This is truly a blessing.”

Tarleton, who was a transplant nurse from Vermont, was severely burned when her estranged husband threw industrial-strength lye on her, severely burning most of her body.

“I am a living example that we have the power and the ability to overcome anything that happens to us,” Tarleton said during a news conference Wednesday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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