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Exclusive: Victim of Lye Attack Gets Full-Face Transplant

Carmen's Fund

Stay tuned to The Doctors for updates on Carmen’s story, and donate now to Carmen's Fund!

Donate to Carmen’s Fund

In June of 2007, Carmen Tarleton, a registered nurse and mother of two, barely survived a brutal attack when her estranged husband beat her with a baseball bat and doused her with industrial-strength lye. The vicious assault burned more than 80 percent of her body and left her with extensive injuries and severe disfigurements.

After the incident, Carmen spent three months in a medically induced coma and received 38 surgeries to try to repair the facial damage she sustained. Over the last six years, Carmen has undergone 17 additional procedures, including skin grafts, but none were successful in restoring her facial muscle control.

In 2011, Carmen joined The Doctors to share her story of courage, survival and grace in the midst of unimaginable pain and suffering.

Carmen has since been raising funds for a groundbreaking full-face transplant, and in February of 2013, she became the fifth person in the U.S. to receive one. The elaborate 15-hour surgery involved transplanting a donor’s nose, lips, facial muscles and neck, and carefully attaching the facial arteries and nerves.

The extensive procedure was led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, the director of plastic surgery transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Pomahac and a team of more than 30 surgeons and specialists achieved a remarkable result, which not only altered Carmen’s appearance, but helped improve her speech, reduced chronic pain and enhanced her ability to eat, drink and blink.

In a The Doctors exclusive, Carmen joins the show via phone in her first interview since the surgery. Dr. Pomahac explains how the procedure was performed and what Carmen can expect in the future.

Despite being legally blind, Carmen wrote a book titled Overcome: Burned, Blinded, and Blessed. Hear her inspiring outlook on life.

“I have a great life, and I am able to go and do what I want to do and take on challenges, knowing that I can be successful. That’s what I would like to share with everyone,” Carmen says. “Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on your goals. Know in your heart that you can do it.”

Transgender First Grader?
The Doctors debate the controversial case of a 6-year-old that developed gender dysphoria at an early age.

Leeza Gibbons’ Life Strategies
From hosting Entertainment Tonight to hosting her own Emmy-winning talk show, Leeza Gibbons has taken Hollywood by storm; however, it was a personal storm that ended up changing the narrative of this engaging storyteller. Both her grandmother and her mother were diagnosed with one of the most frustrating and heartbreaking diseases on record – Alzheimer’s.

In 2002, she founded The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and she has been fighting for patients, their families and their caregivers ever since. Now, Leeza is offering her life lessons in her new book, Take 2: Your Guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings.

"It's all about finding your story and finding which parts of it you'd like to rewrite," Leeza says. Named a New York Times best-seller, Take 2 is for anyone who needs a new start, whether it’s after an illness, a job loss, a divorce, or years of feeling trapped. "Sometimes we just need to say, ‘This is my life; these are my rules and, everybody, get the memo,’” Leeza says. “If you’re not in charge of your own boundaries and your own heart, and protect and honor your space, we can’t expect everybody else to show up in the way we need them to.”

Hitting the Reset Button

Leeza discusses her new book, which she describes as a “life support.”

Giving Courage

Leeza recalls her feelings when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and explains how her foundation has helped honor her family and many others.

Leeza's Stress Busters

Leeza shares her top stress-busting tips.

Alzheimer's Warning Signs:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Challenges in solving simple problems.
  • Difficulty in completing tasks that are familiar.
  • Confusion of time and place.
  • Unexplained changes in mood or personality.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.

Caregiver Checklist
Approximately 65 million Americans serve as caregivers for their chronically ill, disabled or elderly family members, and 80 percent of long-term health care is provided by family members.

Join the Family Fitness Challenge

USA Weekend and The Doctors are joining USA Today to launch the annual Family Fitness Challenge, a program specifically formulated to inspire families across the country to eat healthier, shape up and lose weight. Click here to learn more!

Get the latest updates from participating families!

Caregivers are twice as likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and arthritis due to the high-stress demands, and 30 to 60 percent of caregivers suffer from depression.

Use this checklist if you are in charge of a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s or another chronic condition. And remember to make your own health a priority, as well. For more tips on caring for a caregiver, visit Leeza's Place.

  • Assess health care and medical needs.
  • Gather social security numbers, insurance policy numbers and other essential personal information.
  • Make a list of contact information for health care professionals.
  • Keep a list of current prescriptions and medications.
  • Document a history of past health problems.

More on Alzheimer's Disease

More on Stress Management

Lose Weight, Collect Cash?
Would you be more motivated to lose weight if you were offered monetary compensation? Photographer Andy Barron first appeared on The Doctors in October 2012 when Mark Foster, lead singer of the band Foster the People, rallied the rest of the band to motivate Andy to get his health back on track with The Foster Challenge. If Andy could lose 80 pounds in eight months, he would receive $20,000. Since then, Andy has lost 60 pounds! You can follow his progress on Twitter. 

The Doctors sent Andy to the California Health & Longevity Institute for a thorough physical exam with an internal medicine specialist. In addition, he was set up with a registered nutritionist to help him on his path to better health.

Health Assessment
Andy undergoes a physical health assessment and nutritional consultation.

Total Body Fitness
See how Andy looks after losing almost 60 pounds! Andy attributes part of his weight loss to a CrossFit exercise routine. Check out some high-intensity CrossFit moves to achieve total body fitness.

To help Andy achieve his target weight, Reebok CrossFit Lab in Los Angeles will provide him with a complimentary year of training. Plus, Paleta Farm-to-Table Meal Delivery will supply Andy with healthy courses for the remaining three months of The Foster Challenge.

Will he meet his ultimate weight loss goal and collect his reward? Stay tuned to find out and continue to track his progress.


Slash Medical Bills

Medical bills are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the U.S. Learn five ways to fight insurance claim denials and potentially reduce your medical bills.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a disease that’s treatable if caught in its early stages.

“The difference between life and death, it really is detection in a 20-minute screening,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says.

“If everybody over age 50 just got screened for this, we could cut the deaths from colon cancer by 60 percent,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears adds.

Screening Guidelines:

  • Anyone over the age of 50.
  • People with a family history of colon cancer.
  • People with symptoms of colon cancer, which include changes in bowel movements, rectal bleeding/blood in stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, chronic constipation, and unexplained weakness or fatigue.

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