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Teenager Who Suffered Horrific Burns Is Patched Up With Skin From Dead Bodies

TodayNewsReview / General / Health / Teenager Who Suffered Horrific Burns Is Patched Up With Skin From Dead Bodies 379 Views

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A teenager who suffered severe burns spanning more than half her body after playing with matches has revealed how she was patched up using dead people's SKIN.

Alexandra Hollingsworth, 18, caught fire after taking part in a dangerous game which involved igniting alcohol.

Sustaining severe burns to 52 per cent of her body, she has undergone more than 20 operations including skin grafts on her elbows, legs, thighs, back, arms and stomach, using flesh from her legs or from cadavers.

"At first, it was weird because it was much darker than my skin tone but my body's not rejecting it and I don't think about it unless someone asks," she said.

"I have no idea who the donor is, I woke up and it was on my chest.

"I'm really grateful that I was able to get that because I needed it and I'm happy that my body accepted it."

Alexandra's life changed forever on July 20 2010.

She was playing with her brother David Singleton, then 14, and cousin Benjamin Amaefule, then 16, at her home in Memphis, Tennessee.

At the time, her mum Sanjaya Singleton, 37, was at work at her admin job.

Alexandra recalled: "We were being bad, stupid kids and playing on the first floor landing of our house with alcohol and matches.

"Some neighbourhood kids had shown us how to ignite a small flame, which previously we'd managed to put out with a towel - but this time it got out of hand."

Alexandra told of how there was a sudden explosion, shortly before she was engulfed by a "hot, orange light."

Frozen in shock, she heard a high-pitched ringing sound and realised she was on fire.

She ran into her mum's room to remove her trousers and tried to take her shirt off, but was scared of it burning her face.

Her cousin and brother then smothered her in a blanket to extinguish the flames.

Though Benjamin, now 21, wasn't injured, David, now 19, was also burned.

"The entire house was covered in soot and smoke and the floor of my mum's room had caved in," Alexandra said.

"I felt like my skin and eyelids were melting.

"As we ran out of the house, I caught my reflection in the mirror. My arms were in shreds and skin was hanging off me."

The emergency services were called, and Alexandra and David were blue-lighted to Methodist South Hospital in Tennessee, USA, before being airlifted to Shriners Hospital for Children, Cincinnati, Ohio.

There, medics confirmed that Alexandra had suffered 52 per cent burns to her arms, stomach, back, thighs, hands and face, while her brother had 18 per cent burns to his chest and inner arms.

Alexandra then fell into a natural coma and woke up days later with a tube down her throat.

"My mum explained what had happened to me as I didn't understand," she said.

"I fell asleep again because I was on so much medication. It wasn't until a few weeks later that I was properly awake and aware."

Doctors had cut her hair off to make sure her scalp wasn't burnt and she was wrapped in bandages.

She continued. "I didn't recognise myself when I looked in the mirror.

"I was hideous and embarrassed that other people had to see me like that."

While David was discharged after a few weeks and did not need surgery, Alexandra stayed in hospital for two months.

Her home also took about four years to be repaired, during which time the family stayed with their grandma Ellenore Amaefule for a year and a half, then in rented accommodation, before moving back home.

In the wake of the fire – which police confirmed was an accident – Alexandra fell into a deep depression, feeling "like a monster" whenever she looked in the mirror.

At her lowest ebb, she even had suicidal thoughts.

"Luckily I was home-schooled but when I left the house to go to the shop I could feel other kids pointing and laughing at me," she said. "I just wanted everyone to leave me alone."

For three years, she suffered with terrifying nightmares, which only stopped once her hair began to grow back and she slowly started feeling more like her old self.

Though she still has days where she feels self conscious, she is now mostly in a good place and thinks of her scars as "interesting" rather than "hideous."

Now, she is using her harrowing experience to help others, by working as a volunteer counsellor for burns survivors.

She said: "I can really empathise with the kids and love working with them.

"Knowing what I went through definitely helps them to trust me.

"Fire is not something to be played with. It's not worth it."


www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/teenager-who-suffered-horrific-burns-8640632?ICID=FB_mirror_main

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