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Case Studies

Kelly’s Story – Necrotising Faciitis ‘The Hardest Was to Be A Mother Again’

Kelly is a stay at home mum of two young children.

In August 2022 Kelly developed a life-threatening infection called Necrotising Fasciitis known as a flesh-eating disease which was slowly eating away at her leg and caused a devastating injury and wound stretching from her ankle to the top of her leg. Alongside this, Kelly also developed Sepsis which put her into a coma for a few days.

Once Kelly was stabilised and out of immediate danger, her recovery began but it left her with devastating injuries and trauma. She had to learn to walk again, use everyday items such as utensils and THE hardest was to be a mother again.

The trauma of her injuries had such devastating effects on Kelly, not just physically but psychologically too. What was once her motivation and enjoyment – playing with her children and taking them to school – she was now unable to do, breaking her heart.  Not being able to do simple things like putting the children to bed or playing on the floor had such a detrimental effect on Kelly.

Kelly wore a façade to get through each day and because of her spritely nature, she was declined by numerous organisations for mental health support despite pleading for help. By this point, Kelly felt at her lowest. On several occasions, she told her mum she no longer wanted to be a mum and even considered ending her life because she had no purpose and felt completely alone in a very dark place.

Her friend then discovered the Katie Piper Foundation as a possible place to support Kelly. After so much disappointment, Kelly didn’t hold much hope, but she explained how contacting the Katie Piper Foundation was the best decision she ever made. Within 24 hours, she’d had her initial callback and within two weeks there was a programme of support for her with counselling, physiotherapy, and meditation sessions which Kelly had never considered before but has had a massive positive impact.

At first, Kelly felt quite overwhelmed by the sheer number of appointments gifted to her, but it was a positive sense of overwhelm. She finally felt like she had a reason to get up each day and a new routine that gave her a new sense of purpose centred around her recovery and ultimately for her family.

After a year of support from the Katie Piper Foundation, Kelly still has regular sessions as part of her personalised rehabilitation. Kelly found she was having triggering thoughts around future surgeries, through her counselling support, hypnotherapy was offered to prepare her for upcoming surgeries. Even her young son Ronan has been able to access Meditation sessions to support his mental wellbeing after he was left traumatised by the experience of witnessing his mum almost dying in bed. The impact was so significant on Ronan, that he became selective mute when Kelly was in the hospital. This, she can’t thank the charity enough for.

One of Kelly’s goals was to get down on the floor and play Barbies with her little girl, Alanna, which she can now do thanks to the ongoing support from the Katie Piper Foundation.

Kelly said; “Life won’t be what it once was but with the help of the Katie Piper Foundation, I can now provide a new normal for myself and my children. 

What struck me most is that you don’t have to fight for help or plead your case. It is there for you and more services are offered depending on my needs.”

Kelly describes the Katie Piper Foundation as a hub of support through one charity – the best charity.

Kelly wanted to tell any survivor facing uncertainty or feeling like she was; “a new norm is on its way for you, and you will be okay. You will get there, it will take time but you will get there”.

Kelly concluded;

“I can honestly say hand on heart, that the Katie Piper Foundation saved my life, I’m not sure I would be here without them.

 

 

Amy’s story – From Survivor to Advocate for Mental Health and Peer Support 

In the wake of the traumatic burns she suffered at Leeds Festival in 2014, Amy not only battled physical pain but also endured the profound mental and emotional toll of PTSD and anxiety. Despite not knowing about available support during her recovery, Amy found purpose in her pain, channelling her experiences into a mission to help others facing similar struggles. Her journey led her to discover the transformative power of peer support and the vital role it plays in healing and recovery. 

Amy’s journey to recovery was marked by the invisible scars of trauma. The emotional aftermath of her accident left her grappling with PTSD and anxiety, compounding the physical pain of her injuries.  Amy felt isolated and overwhelmed, unsure of how to navigate the complexities of her mental health. Yet, Amy’s resilience remained steadfast, propelling her toward a brighter future and instilling the motivation to go to uni a year later to study Psychology so she could one day work towards training as a clinical psychologist and help others. 

In 2017, Amy’s path intersected with the Katie Piper Foundation, offering her a lifeline of hope and healing. Through the charity’s call for burns survivors to share their stories, Amy found a community of kindred spirits who understood the depths of her pain. Despite initial hesitations, Amy embraced the opportunity to connect with others who had walked a similar path, discovering a sense of belonging and acceptance that she had long yearned for. As she became increasingly involved with the charity, Amy recognised the profound impact of peer support on her recovery journey. 

Amy’s involvement with the Katie Piper Foundation ignited a passion for advocacy and empowerment. Through her volunteer work, she has played an instrumental role in helping shape and expand the charity’s services, ensuring that fellow survivors received the holistic support they deserved. Amy understands the importance of reaching out for help and embracing the resources available through organisations like the Katie Piper Foundation. Her advice to hesitant survivors reflects her own experiences and the profound impact of peer support on her healing journey. If you are an adult burns survivor in the UK please click the link to find out how we can support you here

Amy’s Advice: “Be open-minded, take what’s on offer as the Katie Piper Foundation has a breadth of support for survivors which I wish I had known about when I was first injured. It will help you not feel alone as you will meet so many like-minded people”. 

From the depths of trauma and despair, Amy has emerged as a fierce advocate for mental health and peer support, driven by her unwavering commitment to helping others find hope and healing. As she continues her journey to soon be training as a clinical psychologist, Amy’s legacy serves as a reminder that no one should ever have to face their struggles alone. 

Next month will see Amy lace up her running shoes and prepare to tackle the Manchester Half Marathon to commemorate all she has overcome in the last 10 years. She embodies the spirit of resilience and hope that defines her journey. With every step, Amy inspires others to embrace their paths of healing and recovery, reminding us all that no obstacle is insurmountable when faced with courage and determination. 

To show your support and encouragement for Amy’s incredible journey, consider making a donation to her fundraising page and join her in making a difference in the lives of burns survivors everywhere. If you are an adult burns survivor in the UK please click the link to find out how we can support you here

Aimee’s story – Making all things possible

Aimee was an aspiring golfer from the age of 16, the day she became a plus-two player, at just 25 years old, a family bonfire turned her life upside down. The wind suddenly changed direction and the flames engulfed her. Aimee sustained 58.5% body burns and was in a coma for 27 days. Aimee recalls waking and not knowing if she was dead or alive. 

Altogether, Aimee was in the hospital for 257 days. She has undergone countless surgeries and was told she would probably just walk again but was unlikely to play golf let alone compete.

Since then, Aimee has been supported by The Katie Piper Foundation where she has had an individualised package of care designed around her need, including specialists working together to provide for her physical and psychological needs. This was done collaboratively in line with the goals Aimee set for herself.

Aimee said,
“Who knows what my future would have been like without Katie and the Foundation? With the support I have had, I am now living the life I had only ever imagined for myself, I owe The Katie Piper Foundation my life”.

This year Aimee achieved a huge milestone, she became The Lady Captain of her Golf Club, and on the 7th of May 2023, she won the Somerset Ladies County Championship – goals she had only ever dreamed of. 

Aimee is a remarkable young woman who dreams of becoming a professional golfer and playing for her country. Aimee recently held a Gold Day in aid of the Foundation and raised a staggering £10,000 and will continue to fundraise during her captaincy year which we are so grateful for. She has defied the odds of the medical teams, and her courage, passion, and determination to raise her confidence and adapt her technique to her injuries show formidable strength.

In Aimee’s words ‘she’s doing all that she can to create this life because she survived’.

David’s story

Following the deaths of his mother and brother in quick succession, David, a construction site foreman, was having problems sleeping. He was so exhausted he visited an emergency GP one Saturday evening who prescribed sleeping tablets. He took one when he got home and fell into a deep sleep on the sofa in front of his gas fire.

He woke to find his dog, Cain, tugging at his leg, and quickly realised the room was filled with smoke. He struggled to find his feet, but managed to get out of the house, and made sure Cain was with him and out of danger too.


Not immediately realising the severity of his injuries, he called a taxi firm he regularly used and asked them to take him to hospital, not thinking for one moment that he actually needed an ambulance. The taxi driver immediately saw how serious David’s injuries were, with his entire upper torso burnt, and having to put out fire in David’s hair when he arrived.

He rushed David to hospital where the trauma team took over; this is the last David recalls as he was immediately placed in an induced coma.

Quite simply, if it hadn’t been for Cain, David knows he wouldn’t be here.

David first approached The Katie Piper Foundation in 2020, 3 years after sustaining his injuries. He was dependent on alcohol, sleeping on the sofa, not leaving his house and in a poor psychological state. He regularly considered taking his own life and couldn’t see a future.

The Katie Piper Foundation worked with the NHS to enrol him on a drug and alcohol detox programme and then, once he had stopped drinking, began intensive and bespoke rehabilitation support.

With significant and specialist psychological support, David has been able to come to terms with the emotional impact of his injuries. We provided a personal trainer and physiotherapy services, enabling David to improve his scarring and regain his physical strength – to the point where he can now take Cain on daily walks again.

We empowered him to make changes and improvements to his living arrangements and worked with him to improve his mental health and wellbeing.

David was proud to be the first patient in our new rehabilitation unit this summer where, alongside other therapies, he engaged with a career consultant, and is now starting to move towards returning to work – something he didn’t ever envisage being possible.

David’s journey demonstrates the impact our work has on survivors, and how we support people to not just survive but thrive in life again.

Yvonne’s story

Yvonne was one of the first survivors to use our Rehabilitation at Home service during the lockdown in 2020. Here is her story.

It was December 2018 when Yvonne went for a walk with her 2 grandchildren. As she stopped to bend down and pick up her small grandson, Yvonne tripped and they both fell over, her grandson’s head was cut and was bleeding and Yvonne could feel her knee hurting, but she was more concerned about getting some help for the toddler. She rushed him to her local doctor who dressed the wound and sent him to A&E with his mum. Yvonne went home and had a look at her own injuries, she had a graze to her knee, it was painful but didn’t look too bad, she cleaned it, bandaged it up and didn’t think anything more about it. Today, that’s the last thing she remembers.

The next day her knee felt ok but by the evening it was really hurting, Yvonne skipped the Christmas party she was supposed to go to and went to bed. During the night she felt worse and started to throw up. Early in the morning her husband took her to A&E, the doctors started running tests, as the day went on her leg started looking worse, it became black and blistered.  According to Yvonne’s husband the doctors grew increasingly concerned and at about 3pm he was given the devastating news that Yvonne had Necrotising Fasciitis. Yvonne was rushed into surgery and doctors began a race against time to remove the infected tissue from her leg and save her life.

Yvonne stayed on life support for 3 days while the doctors operated a further 2 times, not only saving her life but also her leg and foot. By Monday, a week after the accident, Yvonne’s condition was stable and preparations began to move her, still sedated, to Stoke Mandeville specialist burns hospital. There, Yvonne had more skin graft operations and was slowly, just before Christmas, brought out of sedation and moved to the burns ward. Yvonne received specialist treatment from burns nurses & physiotherapists who worked to manage her pain and help her to cope with the physical impact of the changes to her leg. ‘My leg didn’t look like my own, it looked like a piece of meat, three quarters of the leg was damaged and the wounds were really deep, they had to cut all of the infection away and that left deep scarring, it was truly shocking’.

Finally, after 2 long months in hospital, at the start of February, Yvonne went home. As she began living with her injuries, starting to walk again and dealing with everyday challenges such as climbing the stairs, the long term, lasting impact of the changes to Yvonne’s life truly hit home. ‘After a few months of being at home, I realised that there wasn’t suddenly going to be a huge improvement, that my shoes wouldn’t fit again in 6 months, that I would have to learn to drive again using my left leg. It suddenly all sunk in and that’s when I became upset, really upset about the new reality of life’.

It was in November 2019 that Yvonne came in to contact with the Katie Piper Foundation and started looking into the KPF Rehabilitation Centre. The Centre supports the rehabilitation of those with severe scarring from Necrotising Fasciitis as well from burns, Yvonne started the process of admittance and had her assessment day in February 2020. She was due to come into the Centre just at the start of lockdown.

As soon as lockdown started the residential Rehabilitation Centre (part of Fairfield private Hospital)  closed and our services were switched to virtual delivery. Yvonne’s rehabilitation support consisted of the elements of the programme that are suitable for online delivery and which targeted her specific concerns. Yvonne was worried how she would deal with being isolated in lockdown and the affect this would have on her confidence. She saw our psychotherapist, Jay, who worked with her to improve her mental health, they worked on acceptance and helping Yvonne to come to terms with what had happened to her, she made a significant step forward as she finally felt able to clear out the shoes from before her accident, accepting that she couldn’t wear them again. With this support  she feels she has dealt with lockdown well, taking it in her stride as another of the big changes she has been through in the last 2 years.

Yvonne also worked with Kay, our specialist physiotherapist, who showed her safe home physiotherapy techniques. The exercises focused on helping her body feel less restricted, on easing the constriction around her knee, making going up and downstairs less painful and easing out her quad muscles so she can walk more easily and keep improving her fitness levels. ‘Everything takes so much effort, my foot gets swollen, my leg hurts, I get so tired, I do so much less each day than I did before the accident, but Kay has helped, she has helped me to manage all the niggles, the aches and pains and that makes a difference. I feel like my rehabilitation has continued despite lockdown and that has had a positive impact on my life’.

Yvonne is building on her time spent in the virtual Rehabilitation Centre, she has gone from strength to strength psychologically and has been able to put together a fitness activity schedule focused on improving her overall fitness independently at home. She is still looking forward to one day entering the residential Rehabilitation Centre and the intensive, daily support and encouragement the programme provides. She can’t cycle at the moment, worried about tearing the skin grafts and is hoping that some time at the Centre might help her to find a way of safely getting back on her bike in what will be another big step forward on her rehabilitation journey.

Leom suffered severe burns in a house fire. Read his story from experiencing amputation and waking not being able to talk, to turning around how he felt about himself at our Rehabilitation Centre

Leom was 35 and living in Birkenhead when during an October night, fire swept through his flat as he slept, he was rescued and taken to Whiston Hospital where he was placed in a medically induced coma for 2 months.

When was bought out of sedation, after multiple skin graft operations, 34% of Leom’s body was burned including his face, legs and left arm. He couldn’t talk for weeks and had reccurring episodes panicking that he couldn’t breathe. He stayed in intensive care for a further month before being moved to the specialist burns unit. There Leom worked with the physiotherapist on moving his legs and trying to walk again. He explains how he felt when he looked in the mirror for the first time. ‘It just didn’t look like me any more, the burns were so bad, my face was very scarred and my left hand, it looked like an ugly potato’. The hospital psychologist tried to help Leom come to terms with his injuries, but his poor state of mind at the time meant that he struggled to engage with the process.

After a little over 5 months in hospital, Leom was discharged and returned home, he continued to visit Whiston Hospital as an outpatient and finally after 6 months, the devastating decision was made to amputate his left hand. By now Leom was living in a flat by himself, he was struggling with the motivation to get up in the morning, didn’t go out at all and had no contact with anyone, he even had his food shopping delivered.  He decided to get a dog and Duke, a husky cross, soon became Leom’s reason for living and the two became inseparable.  Walking Duke gave Leom a reason to leave the house, but even then he kept his cap on all the time, trying to stay hidden away.

Leom came across The Katie Piper Foundation, he started talking to our staff about hair restoration and rehabilitation. Supported by our team, he had several hair transplants to restore not just the hair on his head but his eyebrows and part of his beard and this made a positive change to how he felt. ‘Having my eyebrows restored was a huge thing, I could look in the mirror and I looked more like me again, that was a big confidence boost’. In 2019 he came to stay at the newly opened KPF residential Rehabilitation Centre. This was something he had been considering for some time, but struggling with the thought of leaving Duke and unable to see how anything could make a difference to his life he had been unable to bear the physical and emotional upheaval he felt he would have to go through, ‘I thought that nothing could really help, my life was what it was, I was used to staying at home, to being on my own, what difference could anything really make? ‘.

Eventually Leom made the decision to come and stay for a week, even on the day he was due to come he was still unsure if he would actually make it. Fortunately, he did and once immersed in the intensive rehabilitation programme he began to see immediate benefits. He focused not just on his fitness and the physical aspect of his injuries with our physiotherapists and personal trainers but also on improving his confidence, working with our psychotherapist to strengthen his mental wellbeing. Through our peer support programme Leom met others with facial burns, he talked to them about how they were living their lives and they helped him to see that life didn’t have to be restricted ‘there was a couple of lads with burns, I had never seen anyone else who looked like me. Chatting to them helped me so much, I realised I’m not the only person in the world living with this, it really turned around to how I felt about myself’.

During his time at the Centre, Leom worked hard to regain his independence and to go out again, to meet new people and show his face. One day he went for a walk on his own, he walked for 7 miles even stopping off at the pub for a drink, something he hadn’t done since before the fire. He went to the cinema and out for a meal in a busy restaurant with his team from the Centre, feeling comfortable as part of a group. Bit by bit he began to see that life was there to be lived again and he could carry on regardless of his injuries.

Leom eventually stayed at the Centre for another week. On the day after his return home he took a huge step forward and went to a party, he now has contact with some friends and is rebuilding his social life. Reflecting on his life now he says ‘What The Katie Piper Foundation gave me was incredible, I don’t know where I would be without them, the combination of the hair restoration and the rehabilitation stay had a lasting impact on my confidence, I could see that I could live my life again’.

Now Leom is learning to drive and is looking forward to taking his driving test, another big step forward in his life.

 

Sal spent a month at the Katie Piper Rehabilitation Centre. Here’s his story

In 2018 Sal was living in the North of England with his wife and teenage son. He had a busy life working as an engineer and loved to spend his weekends cycling and volunteering in the local community. In June he took a trip to Yemen to visit his father and brothers and to catch up with extended family and friends.

After spending a couple of days in the city, Sal and his family decided to make a trip to their home village in the desert. Mindful of the poorly maintained, badly lit roads and army checkpoints, Sal took the drive slowly, chatting with his brothers and young nephew, with the windows down in the warm evening air. In an instant everything changed, Sal remembers seeing headlights coming towards him, hearing a bang as a van crashed and feeling burning as a barrel of acid from the back of the van showered through the open window on to him and his family. Struggling to see and with no water to douse the acid, Sal and his family were put in the back of a taxi.  Over the next 2 hours, in agony, they traveled to five hospitals until they found somewhere able to treat their burns on just a very basic level. Sal had severe burns on his face and body. After five days in hospital, with very little support and no specialist burns care, Sal was desperate to get back home and booked himself on to a plane back to the UK. Sal’s wife met him in Jordan and they flew the eight hours back to Manchester together.

Upon arrival at Manchester, Sal was rushed to Wythenshawe Hospital, after 2 days he was transferred to the RVI Newcastle and into intensive care where the burns staff battled to save his life. With 37% burns to his body and face and only a scarf to cover his burns whilst in Yemen his wounds were badly infected. Having already lost an ear and much of the sight in one eye, doctors made the heartbreaking decision to remove the other eye to save him from life threatening infection. For the next 9 weeks Sal stayed in intensive care having specialist burns treatment, he had over 10 operations in an attempt to reduce the damage done by the burns. Finally Sal went home and now registered blind, he began facing the realities of a life with severe burns. He learned to walk again, to feed himself and to begin to cope with the trauma of what he had experienced.

Sal came to stay for a month at The Katie Piper Foundation Rehabilitation Centre. His goal was to improve his fitness and regain his independence. His scars were tight from his skin grafts and he couldn’t move one of his arms much at all, he was also struggling with his confidence and daunted by going out in public on his own. During his rehabilitation month, Sal had regular sessions of physiotherapy and specialist treatments to help ease his scars and improve their feel and texture. He worked with our personal trainers, trying boxing for the first time to improve his freedom of movement and his core strength. He was supported with his well being through therapy and was encouraged and challenged to do things on his own, he began taking trips into the local town on the bus and talking to new people, all the time making small steps towards regaining his independence.

Sal gave his all to his rehabilitation and the staff were there to support him every step of the way, ensuring that his month was spent in the most beneficial way possible. The progress he made was transformational, the staff were amazed at his courage and sheer determination to reclaim his life and become independent again.  By the end of his month Sal’s confidence had rocketed and with a renewed optimism for the future he returned home, confident in his ability to start living his life again, ready for what the future could offer him and most importantly back on his bike and cycling again.