Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is a world leader in promoting and performing this life-giving procedure. Learn more about the face transplant surgery program at BWH and the research that led to the breakthrough.
The surgery is described as a life-giving procedure because it has the potential to dramatically improve, i.e., restore, both a patient’s mental and physical health.
Robert Chelsea, 68, became the first black patient, and the oldest, to receive a full face transplant in a procedure at Brigham and Women's Hospital in July 2019. Chelsea, a Los Angeles area resident, suffered burns over 60 percent of his body and face after his car was struck by a drunk driver in 2013. The 16-hour surgery, involving a team of over 45 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, residents and research fellows and led by Bohdan Pomahac, MD, was the ninth face transplant procedure at the Brigham and the 15th nationwide.
Carmen Blandin Tarleton
Carmen Blandin Tarleton is the first person in the U.S. and second in the world to receive two face transplants, both performed by Brigham and Women's Hospital multi-disciplinary teams and led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac. The first transplant took place in February 2013, after Tarleton suffered burns over 80 percent of her body from an attack by her estranged husband, who doused her with industrial-strength lye. Tarleton’s second face transplant took place in July 2020 after suffering a chronic rejection of the first transplant. It was the 10th face transplant performed at the Brigham since 2011.
In April 2011, less than one month after the first full face transplant in the United States, the BWH team performed the second full face transplant in the nation for patient Mitch Hunter. It was the third face transplant procedure to be performed at BWH and the fourth face transplant in the country. The team worked for more than 14 hours to replace the full facial area.