In 2009, Rodgers pleaded guilty to maiming Tarleton in exchange for a prison sentence of at least 30 years.
The hospital said that during the face transplant surgery, more than 30 surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses worked for more than 15 hours to replace Tarleton’s skin, muscles, tendons and nerves.
The face donor was a Williamstown, Mass., woman, Cheryl Denelli Righter, who died of a sudden stroke, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Righter’s daughter, Marinda, told Tarleton on Wednesday that she looked beautiful, adding she was certain her mother had somehow picked Tarleton. “They are both mothers, they are both survivors, they are both beacons of light,” she said.
Righter said after meeting Tarleton for the first time Tuesday, she felt overjoyed for the first time in a long time.
“I get to feel my mother’s skin again, I get to see my mother’s freckles, and through you, I get to see my mother live on,” she said. “This is truly a blessing.”
Tarleton is legally blind and read her remarks from a tablet. She thanked Righter’s family for what she called “a tremendous gift” that’s greatly alleviated the physical pain she’d felt daily.
Tarleton referred to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and said the city is “facing the challenges of pain and forgiveness.”
“There is a lot to learn and take from horrific events that happen,” Tarleton said. “I want others to know that they need not give up on feeling (like) themselves when tragedy strikes, but instead they can make a choice to find the good and allow that to help them heal.”