Pretoria News

Acid burn victim has first plastic surgery procedure

- ANNA COX

ACID burn victim Ines Antonio yesterday underwent plastic surgery – her sixth operation since November last year when her former boyfriend Jan Pieterse threw acid over her face and chest, destroying her life.

A surgeon, Dr Gabriel Doucas, in collaborat­ion with the Netcare Foundation, has offered his services free for the two operations aimed at improving her life.

Antonio underwent one operation yesterday and will return within a few weeks for the second.

Speaking exclusivel­y to The Star, sister newspaper of the Pretoria News and the only media allowed into her room at the hospital, Antonio said she was both nervous and happy at the opportunit­y of having the operation.

“I am very scared, but I am very lucky to be having it. Everyone here, hospital staff, nurses and doctors have been so kind. But I am scared of needles,” she said.

The hospital put a clamp on media visiting her, saying they feared it would upset her before the operation.

But she was surrounded by friends, including Annerie du Plooy from the Heroburn organisati­on which offers support to burn victims. “I did this so she could relax and get away from all the media attention. She had a good night’s rest,” said Du Plooy. Antonio says all she wants is to be rid of the pain. “The areas where I was burned are always painful.

“I cannot do anything normally. I even have to sleep in the upright position.

“I can’t shower, dress or eat properly because I can’t chew. I am awake most of the night because of the pain,” she said.

The operation will be done to try to rectify the damage to her neck, upper lip and underarms.

The Netcare Foundation will cover the costs of theatre and hospital, as well the cost of her rehabilita­tion in between the two surgeries.

Doucas said: “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, The procedures will address the armpit scar tissue by surgically releasing them, using her own skin flaps to allow more freedom of movement.

“During the second procedure, they will take healthy skin from other areas of Antonio’s body and graft it on to the affected areas.”

Pieterse, who has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, will be sentenced in the Johannesbu­rg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday next week.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges, saying he acted in self-defence because Antonio attacked him.

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