'I'm having my last surgery before I'm 30" - woman who suffered 90pc burns as a baby
A Cork woman who has undergone more than 100 surgeries after she received third degree burns to 90 pc of her body said she was hopeful her last would come before her 30th birthday.
Denise Lehane from Clonakilty told RTE’s Liveline that a chance encounter with an American plastic surgeon while she was visiting New York City as a teen had “changed her life”.
“I had had a lot of surgeries in Dublin when I was young but it had reached the point where they couldn’t really do much more to help me,” she said.
“By chance I was in New York for an Youth Team sports competition when I was approached by its directive who asked my parents if I’d be interested in seeing a surgeon while I was there.”
“Within a week I was back for my first surgeon, and I’d have dozen more with the US team for the next four years.”
The 28-year-old's burns were caused when she was just nine months old on her parent's farm.
The accident involved melted plastic and caused third-degree burns across 90 pc of her body.
"I was very lucky that my father held me under water until the ambulance arrived," she said.
"They told him that's what saved my live."
Having begun the surgery in the US aged 12, the Cork native would send the next four years going back and forth to undergo dozens of procedures.
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Unfortunately the group that was helping her family fund the expensive reconstructive surgery closed down, and the hospital was unable to complete the remaining work.
“As people might know, it’s very expensive to have medical work done in the US.
“I was almost finished when the group had to close four years into the surgeries, so I wasn’t able to get the remaining work on my face finished.
“It’s been a few years now but thankfully I’ve met a Cork doctor who will be able to finish up the work.”
Mr Lehane told Liveline she was “confident that the remaining work will be done before my 30th birthday. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
“I had my last big surgery just two weeks ago and all that’s left now is some minor work.
“I was 9 months old when it happened and I’m 28 now… [so] it’s been a long time getting everything wrapped up."
The 28-year-old added: “Having most of my life in hospital, I think it’s important people know that despite these kinds of injuries, people can still live their lives the same as everyone else.”
“I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy… but I’m a pretty positive person so I’ve taken it all in my stride."