Acid burn survivor looks forward to a life without pain
It’s very difficult for Ines Antonio to do normal‚ everyday things for herself. Getting up‚ showering‚ dressing herself and simply eating are not simple chores for the acid burn survivor.
“I am awake for most of the night because of the pain‚” Antonio says. “This has become my life.”
But on Tuesday‚ a statement from the Netcare Foundation and Netcare Linksfield Hospital said‚ her “life is about to change for the better with the help of plastic and reconstructive surgeon‚ Dr Gabriel Doucas‚ who has volunteered to donate his time by undertaking two functional surgical procedures…to improve her range of movement”.
In November last year‚ Antonio sustained third-degree burns when she was allegedly attacked with acid by her former boyfriend‚ Jan Pieterse‚ who was on trial for attempted murder in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court.
Tuesday’s operation – the first of two – will tackle the “release of the neck burn contracture”.
“At present‚ the scar tissue from the acid burns is very tight‚ restricting her neck range of motion‚ as well as her shoulder mobility on both sides‚” Doucas explained.
“The procedures will address the armpit scar tissues by surgically releasing them‚ using her own skin as flaps to allow for more freedom of movement.
“The release of the neck burn contracture will allow her neck (to move) better. Additionally‚ it will decrease the pulling on her lower lip and chin‚ allowing her to close her mouth more easily without disfigurement.”
Doucas said the area “will be covered with Integra‚ which is a highly advanced skin substitute material” consisting of “an inner layer of fibres that integrate with the body and an outer thin silicone film that will be removed during a second procedure in the weeks to come”.
That procedure will also see healthy skin from other areas of Antonio’s body grafted “onto the affected areas over the remaining inner layer of Integra”.
Antonio said ahead of Tuesday’s operation: “I am so excited to think I will be able to do things again and I am praying that my pain can be reduced. I am so grateful for this help.”