Thanks for saving my skin
IT’S a small keepsake gifted with enormous thanks.
“I wouldn’t be here without him,” burns victim Angelo Cesare, from Manningham, said.
Eighteen months ago, Royal Adelaide Hospital Burns Unit director Professor John Greenwood treated Angelo after a freak accident scarred 60 per cent of his body with third-degree burns.
It’s the first time Angelo has told his story publicly.
“Angelo had an extremely life-threatening burn injury covering a very extensive amount of his skin, as well as a smoke inhalation lung injury,” Prof Greenwood says. “He was lucky he was in Adelaide – the mortality rate here for adult burn injury is less than 0.1 per cent.”
Later this month, Angelo will undergo another corrective surgery – his sixth procedure to date. The North Adelaide hairdressing salon owner was completely set alight after accidentally dropping a 20-litre methylated spirits container he was decanting in his salon.
The highly flammable liquid igniting on contact with a live power point, burning him from his neck to his toes.
“All I could remember was picking up the bottle and then whoosh,” he said. Alone in the salon and with staff at least 30 minutes away, Angelo smashed through the salon’s front glass doors on to cafe strip Melbourne St.
“There was a lot of pain,” he said. “I knew I was on fire. I had to get out.”
Nine days later, he woke from an induced coma at the RAH. His fingers had fused together while shielding his face from the flames. He spent five months in hospital and is in rehabilitation.
Angelo credits his recovery to a synthetic skin product developed by Prof Greenwood after the 2002 Bali bombings and which was applied by the doctor himself to wildfire victims in Greece just last month. While under pre-surgery sedation in April, Angelo overheard Prof Greenwood mention his dream car – the British sports car marque Aston Martin.
“I wasn’t quite out of it yet, so I told (Prof Greenwood) not to worry and that I’d buy one for him,” he said.
This week Angelo made good on his promise – delivering a miniature version of the coveted exotic vehicle to his surgeon.
Prof Greenwood said the sports car would take pride of place in his office at the RAH. “(It’s) such a thoughtful gift with a funny story behind it – it’s nice to have something to remember my patients by.”