Acid burn survivor looks forward to relief after surgery

Plastic surgery procedure to restore movement, improve her quality of life

Tuesday, October 13 2015

Almost a year ago, Ines Antonio’s life was turned upside down when acid was thrown on her in an alleged domestic violence incident. A plastic surgeon, in collaboration with the Netcare Foundation, will on Tuesday undertake the first of two operations aimed at bringing relief to Ines and improving her quality of life.

“The areas where the acid burned my body are always painful. Since the incident, it is very difficult for me to do normal, everyday things for myself, even to get up, shower, dress myself and just to eat because I can hardly chew. I am awake for most of the night because of the pain. This has become my life,” Ines explains.

The severe chemical burns Ines suffered caused the skin of her neck, lower lip and both underarms to contract considerably, greatly impeding her movement. In addition to the pain this continues to cause her, it has also resulted in greatly diminished quality of life for Ines.

Now, however, Ines’s life is about to change for the better with the help of plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr Gabriel Doucas, who has volunteered to donate his time by undertaking two functional surgical procedures at Netcare Linksfield Hospital to improve her range of movement. The Netcare Foundation will cover Ines’s theatre and hospital costs, as well as her rehabilitation costs whilst she in the care of Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital.

The first operation will be performed on Tuesday 13 October. Dr Doucas explains: “At present, the scar tissue from the acid burns is very tight, restricting her neck range of motion, as well as her shoulder mobility on both sides. The procedures will address the armpit scar tissues by surgically releasing them, using her own skin as flaps to allow for more freedom of movement.

“The release of the neck burn contracture will allow her neck better. Additionally, it will decrease the pulling on her lower lip and chin, allowing her to close her mouth more easily without disfigurement. The neck defect will be covered with Integra, which is a highly advanced skin substitute material. This operation is expected to take about two-and-a-half hours.”

The Integra Dermal Regeneration Template, sponsored by Baroque Medical, consists of two layers; an inner layer of fibres that integrate with the body and an outer thin silicone film that will be removed during a second procedure in the weeks to come.

Mande Toubkin, general manager: emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment at Netcare, says that the Netcare Foundation is delighted to be able to assist Ms Antonio with the treatment which will, in time, reduce her pain and help her to reclaim her life and reaffirm her sense of dignity.

“Assisting patients like Ines to rebuild their lives and regain their independence goes to the very heart of our work at Netcare. Ines’s situation was brought to the attention of the Netcare Foundation and we consider it a great privilege to be in a position to assist her through the resources at our disposal.”

Dr Doucas explains that during the second procedure, which is to be performed some weeks after the first, the silicone layer of the Integra material will be removed. “We will then also take healthy skin from other areas of Ms Antonio’s body, and graft it onto the affected areas over the remaining inner layer of Integra.”

Dr Erich Bock, general manager of Netcare Linksfield Hospital, says the hospital was looking forward to being of service to Ines.

“It is humbling that the treatment provided by the specialist and nursing staff at our facility can make life better for patients such as Ines. Our professional and caring staff members always do their utmost to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients, and it will be particularly rewarding to witness Ines’s progress,” Dr Bock observes.

Ines expressed her gratitude to the Netcare Foundation, Dr Doucas, anaesthetist Dr Yasmin Ibrahim, the hospital management and staff, and all those who have played a role towards securing this life enhancing healthcare and surgery for her.

“I am so excited to think I will be able to do things again and I am praying that my pain can be reduced. I am so grateful for this help,” she said.


Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Foundation
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney or Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]