WHEN dancer Abbie Quinnen was rushed to hospital with third-degree burns, she expected NHS staff to help fix her physical injuries.
What she wasn’t expecting was the support and guidance that helped her with the mental scars left by the freak accident that engulfed her in flames.
Abbie Quinnen, 24, showed the extent of injuries after her accident where she got third-degree burns[/caption]
The dancer showed how far she has come as she stepped out on a night out with boyfriend AJ Pritchard last month[/caption]
Abbie, 24, believes she would be in a much worse place physically and mentally without the dedicated staff who looked after her from intensive care onwards.
In an exclusive chat ahead of The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards on September 14 — aired on Channel 4 later this month — she said: “NHS staff saved me in so many ways.
“They are the closest things we have to superheroes. We are so lucky to have the NHS. I would be absolutely lost without them.
“My doctor gave me an amazing level of care and was so devoted to helping me, it felt unbelievable.
NHS staff saved me in so many ways. They are the closest things we have to superheroes.
“I felt so comfortable with everything that she had planned for me and she went through absolutely all the different options.”
Our awards — sponsored by The National Lottery and showing exclusively on Channel 4 — celebrate the incredible medics who have gone above and beyond in taking care of people, as well as the ordinary people who have done something extraordinary.
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‘Therapy was vital to heal’
In January, Abbie — girlfriend of former Strictly dancer AJ Pritchard — was attempting to film an internet hack to turn a wine bottle into a vase. The trick involved wrapping a rope soaked in flammable liquid around the bottle and lighting it, which is when Abbie was engulfed in a fireball.
Within an hour she was being seen by medics, and eight months on she is still being treated by our incredible NHS, who gave her back her life and confidence. She continued: “I see a therapist as well for the mental side of my injuries.
“I was so amazed that the NHS provided that and they really encouraged me to heal mentally too. I think for the first few weeks, I didn’t really want to talk about what had happened to me.
“I wanted to forget about it and just try and recover. But as soon as I saw my surgeon, and before she did my three surgeries, she asked why I hadn’t taken the option of therapy.
“She told me how vital it was to heal. I followed her advice and it has really helped me. I still speak to someone once a week and I feel like I’ve come on in leaps and bounds emotionally and mentally as well as physically.”
Abbie spent five nights in intensive care as staff attempted to repair her damaged skin, and she went on to have three skin graft operations to stop infections setting in.
Initially Abbie was taken to Ealing Hospital’s A&E department, where staff liaised with the specialist burns unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital — where she was later transferred — to ensure everything possible was done to minimise the damage and pain.
They also ensured they kept AJ up to date with her treatment. Abbie said: “It was incredible how much they were going out of their way to make sure I was receiving the best treatment possible. I don’t think I can ever thank them enough. Their dedication has saved me from a lot more pain and damage.”
I was so amazed that the NHS provided that and they really encouraged me to heal mentally too.
Abbie added: “Before I went home they wanted me to look at myself with the burns. I remember going into a private room with a therapist to take a look.
“There aren’t any mirrors in the rest of the hospital so it was a massive shock to see the damage. It was really hard but the therapist was great. I think if I’d seen my face for the first time at home with AJ it would have been much more difficult and shocking.”
Abbie credits the NHS for being by her side throughout, and says seeing the same professionals all the way through has helped her feel calmer about the treatment.
But there is one doctor who stands out the most for her — her surgeon, Miss Isabel Jones, who performed all of the operations.
Abbie said: “She made me feel so comfortable with what was going to happen.
“I was really scared about having the surgery but she made sure I fully understood everything and answered all my questions.
“I felt like nothing bad could ever happen because she would be there with me, making sure I was safe.
“She was simply amazing, an absolute superhero.
‘They’re most caring people in the world’
“I’m getting to see her again in a few weeks and I am so excited. I can’t thank her enough for what she has done for me.”
While the most traumatic part of her medical care is over, Abbie is still having laser sessions to reduce the scarring from the burns. She has a session every six weeks, during which a laser is used to pierce the skin and break up the scar tissue to make it appear more flat.
Abbie applies numbing cream before the half-hour treatments, as she has been warned it can otherwise be quite painful. At the moment she is unclear when her sessions will end.
The laser treatment has made a huge difference to the burns on her body, reducing them from purple masses down to light pink markings.
Since experiencing the burns and the amazing NHS, all I want to do is help other people because they helped me get through a really traumatic time.
Abbie knows that her recovery is “100 per cent” thanks to our incredible NHS. She said: “They are the most caring people in the world and make a really big effort to understand what you have been through.
“Since experiencing the burns and the amazing NHS, all I want to do is help other people because they helped me get through a really traumatic time. They helped me every step of the way and I will never be able to thank them enough.”
Medics urged Abbie to look at her reflection[/caption]
Abbie six months after her accident[/caption]
The hospital where NHS heroes helped to put Abbie’s life back together[/caption]
DUA’S RIVER HERO GONG
By Amy Jones and Graeme Culliford
POP star Dua Lipa is to donate her latest Brit Award to the grieving parents of Thames rescue hero Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole.
The singer’s team contacted the aspiring musician’s family after she dedicated her Best Album gong to him in a moving tribute at the ceremony in May.
Dua, 26, called for Folajimi – known as Jimi to his loved ones – to be given a bravery award, and now he has been nominated for the Ultimate Lifesaver honour at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards this month.
Jimi was just 20 when he died while trying to rescue a drowning woman from the Thames in London in April. The woman and fellow rescuer Joaquin Garcia, 21, were both saved but Jimi’s body was found six hours later.
His dad Michael Adewole, 63, said: “Dua has been so nice and we are very grateful for everything she has done for Jimi. Her people said they will send her award so we can keep it at our home.
“She was touched by our son’s bravery and I think it meant even more to her, because Jimi was a musician. Jimi loved music just as Dua loves music, so they have that in common. When the award arrives we will keep it here for Jimi.
“He would be so happy to have a Brit trophy on his shelf – this would have meant the world to him. Music was such an important part of Jimi’s life and he was determined to be a professional musician one day.”
Dua’s tribute came just one month after Jimi went missing when he dived into the river near London Bridge to try to rescue the woman. He had been walking home late at night after a 12-hour shift as a waiter when he heard her screams and ran to help.
Dua spoke movingly about Jimi and Joaquin when she collected her Best Album gong at the O2 Arena. She told the 4,000-strong audience: “This award is for Jimi and Joaquin. Jimi, you have touched the hearts of the whole nation and we will never forget you.”