thanks for watching al jazeera america. i'm del walters. techno is next. >> welcome. i'll phil torres, here to talk about innovations can change lives. we are going to explore the intersection of hardware and humanity. this is a show about science, by scientists. let's check out our team of hard core nerds. lindsay moran is an ex-cia operative. tonight she has a real drama, a face transplant that almost ended in death, and an invasion that saved a woman's life. tonight she is in the mountains of california where condors are making a come back, thanks to a simple use of technology.
and i'm phil torres, i'm an entomology. i study insects in the rain forest of peru. that's our team, now let's do some science. >> hey, welcome back to anothee changing invasions in science. we are starting today with lindsay. you have incredible touching story of a transformation in a woman. who had a face transplant, tell me the story? >> this was truly a life changing use of technology. she had a full face transplant. here is the procedure. i want to emthat size, this is still very cutting edge.
there have only been seven face transplants in the united states. carmen's was the 7th, and there have only been 30 full or partial worldwide. carman took an incredible risk, even having this procedure done. and by doing that, she actually is helping to change the way that they look at these in the future, and really changing medicine. >> registered nurse. a mother of two, in my second marriage. before i was attacked i considered myself a good looking person, an average looking wesh. i can appreciate having physical looks that sort of matched and went along with everybody else. carman's nightmare began in this house. on a quiet june evening in 2007.
she is in the midst of divorcing her husband, when he break in, tied her up, beat her with a bat, and then doused her body filled with lye. one doctor described it as the most horrific injury a human could suffer. >> 8% of her body was burned. chef left legally blind, and despite 55 surgeries over five years her face and neck remained grossly disfigured and terribly painful. the doctor sat down across from you and said you were a candidate for a face transplant. >> i was stunned. i was shocked. that this could even be done. >> at the time, she told the bo boston globe about her decision. >> if there's a possibility and i feel that it is worth it, then i'll do it. >> you waited 14 months, tell me about when you got the call saying that they had a match? >> doctor told me it wasn't a perfect match,
she was a little older. i didn't want to wait any longer, and i said yes. >> carman's 15 hours of surgery, at brigham and women's hospital began with a team to recover the donor's face. a 56-year-old woman, who died of a stroke. with only four hours before the donor's face would no longer be viable, carman's surgical team connected the donor's nerves, blood vessels and muscles on to car man's face. then reconnected bones to make the face and neck fit properly. >> before doctors even made a sing eight incision, considerman was warned of a potentially life threatening complication. she had had so many skin grafts from unknown donors doctors feared that her immune system would launch a full scare attack on her new face. and it actually did. for weeks afterwards they muched her with every drug they could think of but nothing worked. >> we were literally on
the last medication. it could shut down her immune system. >> i told him that he drug. >> the risk of death was significant. >> i want this face to work out, so i saidly do whatever i have to do. >> but to my surprise, she said i would rather die then go back. that's a powerful statement that i honestly didn't expect. >> if they couldability get the rejection under control, they'd have to remove the transplant. leaving carman with yet another mutilated face. w the clock ticking, doctors made a significant break with protocol. >> we gave a small dose of the medication, then we felt was not going to paralyze the immune system, but could help. >> it was a powerful antirejection drug. but they gave her just a fraction of the prescribed dose. >> and it turns out that that was the last little
bit that she needed. >> you look great, i think the color is good. >> yeah, i feel good. >> maybe we come down on some of the medications in. >> okay. >> now six months later, living proof of a small change, with a huge impact. not just for carman, but other high risk transplant patients dealing with rejection. >> back home in vermont, carman is literally getting comfortable in her skin. >> carman, would you mind if i touch your face. >> no, i don't mind. >> boo! [laughter] [it's smooth. so this is all part of the transplant. >> right. >> how far back does the transplant go? >> this is the like. around here, down here then all the way up the other side. >> what are your goals now? >> my goals now is to have a face that works at least 90 pest of normal. within another year and a half. >> are there specific thins you feel like you
can't do with this face that you want to be able to do. >> i can't show expression yet. and nowky move my lips. and i can smile. it takes time to use her muscles that i no longer had. i am going to wasle my nose. >> so she has daily facial exercises. and carman still needs to take imunno suppress samples. >> how many different pills to you take a day? >> ten different kinds but about 40 something pills. >> she has also written a book, "overcome, burned blinded and blessed." >> tell me what about message you wanted to convey. >> i knew if people could see how far i had come, that might take that chance to get pass to overcome some of their demons so they would
haven't to live in such a negative place. >> . >> what an amazing woman, and incredible brier that they went through, what sort of complications did they find? >> the complications were that she had so many skin grafts, from unknown donors, that her immune system would attack the new face. they tried every kind of drug imaginable. and then finally, came up with the miracle and that seemed to work. and so it really has changed the way that doctors like dr. pamaha who performed the face transplant are dealing with the aftermath. >> so we have seen kind of the medical aspect, but what about the people who are in her life? how did this effect them? >> the people surrounding carman both before the attack, and after, are truly amazing people.
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that she has had a couple of people really touch her life, in the next segment we will meet them, carman's boyfriend, and the woman who made this mir driver's license happen. made this miracle happen. >> her life was changed forever, when her ex-husband attacked her with a bottle of industrial lye. an experimental face transplant changed her life again in february. although it took six weeks before doctors came one a pioneering drug therapy, to save off a life threatening rejection. as she continues to regain the use of her face, carman has some personal goals. >> i know you had a goal of being able to kiss your boyfriend sheldon, have you been able to do that? >> he kisses me, and i try, but i don't kiss him the way i want to. [laughter] >> a big part of her life now, music teacher, who she met just before the surgery.
>> she came to the music store, before her face transplant, so she was a site to see. and etch the first day i saw how strong she was inside, her inner beauty attracted me. >> what was your reaction when you first saw her new face. >> held her hand and stared at her. it was just like mind boggling and amazing. >> twinkle, pretty good, huh. >> the face shelden is admiring on shelden came from a 56-year-old massachusets woman, whose death gave carman her new life. >> you knew that you're getting a face was going to mean a tremendous loss for somebody else. >> i knew that there was somebody out there she has no idea it was going to be her. i knew that she was going to leave family, i knew
it is going to be unexpected. >> on february 13th, carman finally got word that a donor face had been found. tell me about the significance of the date? >> by the time i had surgery, it was valentines day. and to me valentines day is the day of love, and it's the day of gifts. i felt strongly that it was a gift for me from her. >> carman and lindsay, thelma and louize. >> yeah. >> we are off to brigham and women's hospital in boston. was it an early morning drive? >> it was in the middle of the night, at 1:30 in the morning. it was very quiet. nobody on the road. really surreal. >> that night, 50 miles away, cheryl was in a
coma, kept alive by machines after a massive stroke. tell me a little bit about your mom. >> she was a free spirit. a force of nature. beautiful, very selfless woman. >> cheryl was already a registered organ donor, but marin da was stunned by what doctors told her. >> it was brought to my attention that there was a possibility that she could be a match for a facial transplant. that kind of blew my mind a little bit. >> you knew this was what your mom would have wanted. >> definitely. >> did you want to know who the donor was. >> i did. and initially, they told me nothing other than her age. i was aware that it would be the family's choice. >> in most of the face transplants the donors
have remained anonymous. but when carman first met her daughter the connection was overwhelming. for both women. >> you officially have paparazzi now. >> the first view of their incredible bond. >> carman you look beautiful. >> thank you. >> i looked at her, through the glass and i could see her profile. and it very much looked like my mother's face, if she had been stung by a bee or swollen. >> i am going to come over and hung you real quick. >> she came towards me, she had an aura about her that was just sweet, and beautiful. and loving. >> and then seeing her was just a wave of emotion. >> we carman myself, and my mother were all there, just embracing each other.
it was pretty spectacular. >> you are beautiful. >> thank you. >> looking at these pictures i can see why you have such an emotional reaction when you see carman, because this is truly is her face. >> yeah. i know. right. it is wild. >> there's a similarity too, with carman before her accident, i can see -- they almost look like sisters talk about a match. >> that match is more than just skin deep. as on emotional marin da waited to see carman the day we were with there. >> hi. >> it is good to see you. >> you look great. >> oh, thank you. >> you haven't seen me in a while. >> i know. >> wow. >> you look beautiful. >> thank you. >> i can move a little bit like i can smile. >> oh my gosh. >> the little smile. >> wow. >> you can feel that too? >> yeah.
>> my mom had it this smirk, and we figured that would like maybe come back. >> yeah. >> with like one sided. >> yep. >> what side was it? >> i think it was the right side. >>ly keep that in mind. >> see if i can smirk. >> yeah. >> how does it make you feel that you were able to facilitate such a propound difference in a propound improvement in someone's life? >> the word i use the first time i met carman was elated. i felt elated. i felt like this was all meant to be. >> there's the obvious connection that carman has your mother's face, but there's more than that, tell us why you two are so connected? >> i mean who would ever think that you would ever get to touch your loved ones face after they have passed carman is so open. >> who do you think you mom would think now about car man having her face and the two of you meeting here?
>> she would be proud. she is happy. >> you too. >> that is just an unbelievable story. that you got to experience, what does she see as next? >> if we check back with with carman in six months she will probably look very different. because the face takes a while to kind of settle on the bone structure of the person. eventually, car man's face will look like a hybrid of her and of cheryl. marin da's mother. >> he strength -- it made me cry. watching it was really moving. >> you will never meet a more resilient person than carman. >> it was beautiful to watch. >> so rachelle, you got the opportunity to cover a technology story that was completely different. >> completely. >> please tell me about it. >> the california condor was practically instinct. we started to use technology to bring them
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welcome back to tech know. you are about to tell us a story about one of the strangely magnificent birds in the world. >> close up it is pretty ugly. so it isn't the most beautiful bird close up. but when it is flying, it is absolutely gorgeous. at 1 point, the population was down to about 22 birds total. and it's all because of the led shot in bullets p p because humanity took them to the brink of extinction, we are now working to bring them back to it's original population level. >> in flight it impresses, majestic as it sails through the skies. strong and steady. it is the largest flying bird in north america, capable of cruising 55 miles an hour, and traveling 150-miles in a
single day. >> because california condors can cover such impressive distances they are hard to keep track of. >> i head out to california to bitter creek national wyatt life refuge to meat up with the fish and wild life service, the federal agency leading the challenge to save the species. >> today the team is doing hands on work with the endangers bird. >> it is exciting to be here, because it is very very rare to see them in this kind of setting. they are very social creatures. >> they are caught twice a year for a health check and to get some new hi-tech hardware. >> so two of the devices we use for monitoring are this solar powered gps unit. and then this vhs transmitter. >> i am going to put this right up against where it
is coming out of the bird's body. >> does it effect the way that they fly? >> this thing is really tiny. but it doesn't weigh very much, it doesn't really get in the way of flying. this is called -- >> the gear used to pick up the frequencies is a bit old school. it pinpoint as specific bird out in the open, but it is the gps that is the lifeline to survival. and they are monitors here at the san diego zoo institute for research. >> okay, so welcome to our lab. this is where we process an analyze all of the data that we get. >> the institute monitors 30 condors that now call baha california home. >> here we have over 100,000 gps locations. this is the reintroduction cycle we are found that they are moving over to the eastern side. because this side gets the sun, so that creates
a strong wind that the birds like. so that's something that we didn't see that we with didn't know about until we got the data from the gps tags. fantastic example of how it is driving the field now. >> in less than three decades the progress made with the california condor has been fantastic. there are 429 condors alive today. with other half of them in the wild. >> dr. mike wallace has dedicated his career to safing the species. >> there were about 22 left when you started the problem, right? >> yes. >> 22 and we are now up to well over 400 birds in the world. >> in 30 years in. >> yes. >> how did you do that? >> well, we manipulated the breeding rate of the birds. >> they typically have a slow reproductive rate.
taking advantage of mother nature's plan, the eggs are carefully confiscated. the chicks are then hatched and cared for by humans with as little interaction as possible. when they get old enough, they are released into the wild, this is why after so much time and effort, losing a bird is a huge set back, especially losing a bird to led poisoning. a leading killer. >> the thing that is most disheartening is the led poisoning. we are putting them into extinction. >> california condors eat dead animals. they often feast on game killed by hunters using led bullets. and when they eat aing fromment, that gets into their system. >> today, there is a number of releases, but number 513 isn't one of the lucky ones.
he needs medical treatment. one last release of the day and the privilege is mind. >> i will shift the bird. that was kind of terrifying, what do you see for the future? >> there's been millions of dollars put into this program. >> do you argue that it is worth it? >> yeah. i would argue that it is worth it. you to draw the line somewhere. not going to accept that letting animals go extinct is okay. >> so rachelle, first up, i must say i am impressed that you can pick that thing up, i have worked in conservation quite a bit, there's this term called the extinction
vortex, where a population can get below a threshold, and once it gets to that number it can't fully recover. so you told me it gone down to 22 individuals. honestly, i am skeptical that even though they are high now, there's enough diversity for them to sustain. >> the 22 that were captured and bred, are very diverse genetically. so they were specifically paired to breed in such a way that it would create the most diversity, and now they have a program where they actually figure out which population the bird should go to when it is released in order to increase the diversity, because it is a big concern. >> thank you for sharing the stories. lindsey, that was a life inspiring story, and rachelle, now i'm excited. i want to go see a condor, and there's enough of them maybeky see one. check back with us next week on tech know. we will bring you more amazing invasions.
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