x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

‘I see one or two children a week with serious burns’

Complicated burns are a specialism for micro-surgeon Dr Al Hammadi.

DUBAI // Burns are some of the most complicated cases Dr Al Hammadi has to deal with. Treating such injuries often requires multidisciplinary teams of plastic surgeons, intensive care doctors, psychologists and bacteriologists.

"During the first 24 hours, we have to save their lives. We give them a lot of water - litres. Then we have to treat them for burns, inhalation injury or chest trauma."

Dead tissue is then removed from the burned area and healthy skin transplanted. Only after that can rehabilitation begin, a process that can take months.

One of his cases was a woman with burns on 70 per cent of her body. Treatment had to be divided into a series of operations to prevent her from losing too much blood at once.

"We're not allowed to do more than 20 per cent in one session. We have to take normal tissue, but with 70 per cent burns, you only have 30 per cent of normal skin to take from. Nine per cent of that is the face, which we can't use, so that leaves 20 per cent. That's really complicated.

"We remove the dead skin so it doesn't form a scar or get infected. If it gets infected, chance of death is really high because bacteria invades the tissue and spreads into the arteries.

"Then we take from the 20 per cent left, mesh it and put it on the affected area, and three weeks later we can take more from the same 20 per cent."

Many of the burns victims he sees are children.

"I see one or two kids a week with serious burns, it's really a lot. Last year, about 36 complicated cases were children. Part of it probably comes from neglect by their parents. I always tell people not to keep hot water in a reachable area or let their kids into the kitchen when they're cooking."

halbustani@thenational.ae