Katie shines as burns unit opens

Katie Piper (centre), who opened the burns unit at Sheffield Northern General Hospital on Tuesday (22 November, 2011), is pictured with fellow burns victims PC Alison Carr, of South Yorkshire Police, and Rachel Taylor, of Swinton.
Katie Piper (centre), who opened the burns unit at Sheffield Northern General Hospital on Tuesday (22 November, 2011), is pictured with fellow burns victims PC Alison Carr, of South Yorkshire Police, and Rachel Taylor, of Swinton.
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BRAVE former model and TV presenter Katie Piper - whose life was turned upside down by a horrifying acid attack - was the VIP guest at the official opening of the Northern General Hospital’s new burns unit.

Katie, aged 28, now devotes her life to work to make living with burns and scars easier for patients and other sufferers.

On her visit to Sheffield she met patients and staff at the specialist six-bed burns facility.

She said: “It’s been a really fantastic day and it’s been wonderful to meet all the team here. I know how much of a team effort it is to treat burns patients and the teamwork going on here is really evident.

“It’s an honour to be invited to open the unit here. As a patient, burns care is something very close to my heart. I wish the staff here every success in the future.”

David Stone, chairman of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The burns unit is a state-of-the-art facility that supports the leading specialists we have here in Sheffield. We are proud of the work it is doing in providing care for patients from Sheffield and across North Trent.

“It has been wonderful to have Katie Piper here to open this unit and to hear about all the work she is doing to support other burns patients and their families.”

On her tour Katie met some of the 25-strong nursing team and the three specialist burns consultants.

In March 2008 Katie had sulphuric acid thrown in her face near her home in north London, in an attack which was ordered by an ex-boyfriend and carried out by an accomplice.

As a result she suffered severe burns and was blinded in one eye.

She spent seven weeks in hospital undergoing pioneering surgery to rebuild her face, which involved multiple skin grafts.

Surgeons removed all the skin before rebuilding her face with a skin substitute and then grafts on top. The procedure was the first of its kind to be completed in a single operation.

For two years after the procedure Katie wore a special plastic pressure mask for 23 hours a day, and has now had over 100 operations in total.

Her story was told to a wider audience in 2009 when she decided to take part in a Channel 4 documentary called Katie: My Beautiful Face.

Afterwards she set up The Katie Piper Foundation, with Simon Cowell as its patron, to help support burns survivors and raise awareness of their experiences.

The foundation also provides funding for care and facilities for burns patients.