The Star Early Edition
Acid burn victim scared, but happy
Netcare Foundation sponsoring life-changing surgery
ACID burn victim Ines Antonio yesterday underwent plastic surgery – her sixth operation since November last year when her former boyfriend Jan Pieterse allegedly 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 of charge for the two operations aimed at improving her quality of life.
Antonio underwent one operation yesterday and will return in a few weeks for the second.
Speaking exclusively to The Star – 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, the 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 Antonio, 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, who has taken Antonio under her wing.
“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 said all she wants is to be rid of the pain.
“The areas where I was burnt 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 the theatre and the hospital, as well the cost of her rehabilitation in between the two operations.
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 onto the affected areas, the surgeon said.
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 has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, claiming he acted in self-defence because Antonio had attacked him.