Carmen survived a traumatic and violent attack over ten years ago, where she sustained 3rd and 4th degree burns to 85% of her body, including her face, and lost her eyesight. After receiving a synthetic cornea transplant in her left eye in 2009 (right eye completely blind) and a face transplant in 2013, Carmen has been living independently. She is legally blind in her left eye with the transplant, meaning she cannot drive, but can walk around town with a cane and uses special software and cameras to read.
In February 2013, Carmen received a full facial transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston MA, and this greatly improved her quality of life. It especially addressed the great and constant pain she tolerated, for which she was on heavy doses of narcotics. A year and half after her transplant, Carmen was able to go off narcotics entirely and lived (almost) pain free.
Carmen and her doctors have been managing chronic rejections to her transplant for the last six and a half years. Last month, in August 2019, Carmen experienced a serious rejection episode in which the small vessels that provide blood to her transplant failed. Her face swelled and she had intense nerve pain and areas of the transplant died. An excellent article in the Boston Globe explains her current situation and can be found here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/09/20/her-face-transplant-failing-after-years-now-patient-faces-uncertain-future/GRIaKwZigHOMBwDpaJT59H/story.html
Carmen's doctors have known that face transplants -- like all organ transplants -- will not last a lifetime and they know that her current transplant is going to experience rejection again. Right now, the Brigham is considering putting Carmen on a list for a second face transplant.
At this time, Carmen needs funds to cover her sudden rise in travel expenses to get to Boston regularly, and, to cover what medicare will not from whatever medical procedure she will eventually need, whether this catastrophic failure and a return to her scarred face and great pain, or, a second transplant. She had been supporting herself with public speaking engagements previously, which she is unable to do now.
Many people around the world have supported and been inspired by Carmen. She is tremendously grateful to everyone for their support and encouragement. She will update everyone on this page.Sudden Loss of Eyesight
On November 11, 2018, this all changed in a day for Carmen. She awoke that Sunday morning rapidly losing her eyesight. By the time she was in Boston later that morning, her sight was completely gone. Due to a massive infection, Carmen lost her synthetic cornea transplant, suffered damage to her retina, and is now completely blind.
Doctors have told her she will not have any sight for up to the next 6 months as her eye heals. They will then give her a new transplant and, hopefully, she will regain the sight she had before. Regaining her eyesight is not guaranteed, but it is a hope and a possibility. The funds we are asking for now are to cover the next 6 months of her total blindness, as we don't know yet if she will regain eyesight in her left eye.
Carmen will not be able to make money as an inspirational speaker as she had before, while her medical costs for new and expensive medication increases. In addition, Carmen has to cover transportation costs to Boston from Manchester one to two times a week, caregiver support, and medical supplies.
Carmen's great hope is that within 6 months her eye will heal, she'll get a new transplant and she'll be able to get along independently as she was before. But during this period of blindness, she needs help to be able to cover her monthly living expenses, new medical costs, and increased expenses that come from being suddenly completely blind.
No donation is too small and every gift will go towards Carmen's healing, as she won't have to worry about losing everything while trying to heal and get back to where she was before.