Woman who received face transplant to speak at CSU

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A woman donated her mother's facial tissue to a stranger who had been severely beaten and burned, and the pair are sharing their story at Cal State Fullerton. (KABC)

A woman donated her mother's facial tissue to a stranger who had been severely beaten and burned, and now the pair plan to speak at Cal State Fullerton to promote organ donations.

In 2013, Marinda Snow Righter's mother, Cheryl, suffered a massive stroke. Doctors asked Marinda if she would consider donating her mother's facial tissue.

"I didn't know that you could do that. It sounded very sci-fi, but there wasn't any hesitation," she said.

Carmen Tarleton, 45, had been living with a disfigured face for years. In 2007, her estranged ex-husband beat her with a bat and severely burned her with industrial strength lye.

"I couldn't breathe out of both sides of my nose. I didn't have lips, so I drooled most of the time," Carmen said.

The transplant took place on Valentine's Day in 2013. Three months later, Marinda agreed to meet Carmen, and at first glance she felt happy.

Because face and hand transplants are so new, just having a pink dot on a person's driver's license does not automatically make them a donor.

Carmen and Marinda will share their story at the One Legacy Donate Life Walk at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

The transplant helped Carmen heal outside, but she said forgiving her attacker helped her heal on the inside. Marinda said her mom suffered domestic violence, too, so seeing the gift of her mom's face on Carmen meant so much.

"I'm a lucky lady and I get to see my mom's smile again," she said.

Related Topics:
healthtransplantsciencedomestic violenceorgan donationsnationalu.s. & worldFullertonLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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