Pioneering plastic surgery saves toddler with 90% burns

Posted: 03/03/2014


Channel 5 recently aired a documentary featuring the inspirational story of Terri Calvesbert who suffered 90% burns when she was a toddler after her mother accidentally left a burning cigarette in her room.

The pictures and footage of Terri’s burns were horrific and it was hard to understand how anything could be done to save her. The burns affected Terri’s face, scalp, neck, chest, back, both arms and legs and the medics involved in her care feared that she would not survive. However, Terri received pioneering medical treatment  in which all her damaged tissue was removed in order to avoid infection and her skin and burnt tissue was replaced with artificial skin.

During the fire, Terri’s hands, ears and nose were destroyed and when she was just three years old she had to undergo hours of plastic surgery in an attempt to rebuild her damaged face. She has had additional operations to help create fingers and thumbs on her hands. Terri’s doctors have advised that they are waiting until she is older to carry out her nasal reconstruction. If they were to do it now, there is a risk that it would not fit her face in a few years time as she continues to grow.

Terri is now a charming and inspirational teenager who does not let anything get in the way of achieving what she wants. As Terri grows, her artificial skin needs replacing so she continues to have operations to stretch her skin so that it can accommodate her growing teenage body. Terri has undergone nearly 40 skin grafts but, despite enduring these painful operations, she continues to smile and achieve.

Her father noted on the programme that he saw plenty of people admitted to hospital with burns when he was with his daughter and that one of the hardest things to come to terms with was the way people looked at them.

Alison Johnson, senior associate in the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence cosmetic claims team, said: “We act for a number of clients who have suffered horrific and life-changing scarring as a result of accidents or negligent medical treatment. By seeking the advice of plastic reconstructive surgeons on the best treatment options available, we can obtain compensation for our clients so that they can have life-changing plastic surgery to help minimise the impact of their scarring and help them re-gain the confidence they had before their negligent treatment. It is inspirational to see how Terri Calvesbert is overcoming her difficulties and how pioneering plastic surgery has helped her to continue her life as a normal growing teenager. A truly heart-warming story about an inspirational young girl.”


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