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.