Three years ago British model and TV presenter Katie Piper was badly burned in a deliberate sulfuric acid attack organized by a violent man that she met on Facebook. Since her terrible, the young former model, now 28, has had to suffer through 110 operations. Most of the first 109 operations were to reconstruct her face, where all of the skin had to be removed from the muscle and skull and replaced with both synthetic skin and skin grafts because of the terrible nature of the deep acid burns which even burned off her eyelids and much of her nose, and left her blinded in one eye. But now, her latest reconstructive operation involved eye surgery and the use of stem cells to restore some vision to her acid damaged eye.
When Katie Piper met her ex-boyfriend, David Lynch, on Facebook three years ago, she had no idea that he had a violent past that involved burning another man with boiling water. He was a violent criminal type who quickly turned into a monster where he beat and raped her in her apartment during a violent sexual attack. But, she was so terrified of Lynch that she failed to call the police. Lynch attempted to contact Katie Piper after the attack, telling her to go to a cafe with computer service for a Facebook message. While walking to the cafe, another violent criminal friend of Lynch’s threw sulfuric acid in the beautiful models face. Almost immediately her lovely young face began to dissolve with pieces of skin falling off. She sought help in the cafe, but by time she could throw water onto her injuries the acid had deeply soaked into her dissolving face. She swallowed some of the acid, and some of the acid ran down her chest, burning her there too. Her vision in one eye turned dark as she lost her eyesight in one eye. Lynch and his associate with both sentenced to life in prison for this horrible crime, although both could be released in as little as 12-14 years.
Plastic surgeons were horrified with the severe and deliberate injuries to a beautiful and nice young woman like Katie Piper. Her lead plastic surgeon, an Arab who became a British citizen was deeply saddened by her condition and sought to do everything possible to restore her life as much as possible. Katie Piper was placed in a medically induced coma for days while her face was completely removed and replaced with a skin substitute and skin grafts. The nature of an acid attack burns are far worse than burns from a fire or heat. The acid penetrates layers of skin and causes injuries far worse than heat burns.
In many third world countries such as those in the Muslim world such as Afghanistan, acid attacks on women are unfortunately common violence despite laws and law enforcement efforts to protect women from such extreme violence, that seldom kills, but always badly maims the victim. With great poverty and few medical resource, few women can afford much if any medical attention after such an attack which may leave them blind as well. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have even paid motorcycle thugs money to throw acid at girls attending school in efforts to close education to females. One schoolgirl is burned by such an acid attack, and then most girls fear going to school and the school closes down, and people remain poor and uneducated, and manipulated by the Taliban religious zealot militia radicals who rule many areas, who support themselves through heroin trafficking to buy weapons or to sponsor terrorism such as 9/11 attacks in the United States. Some people think that the problem of the Taliban will go away and terrorism will stop if the U.S. or NATO weren’t involved in Afghanistan. But, things don’t work that way. Fighting the Taliban is fighting a serious crime problem. If police didn’t stop crimes, crimes wouldn’t stop on there own. They would only flourish and worsen.
Katie Piper unfortunately became the victim of the same sort of violence far too many women have suffered in third world nations, but don’t have the medical resources available to receive. Katie Piper did have the advantages of living in the UK where more lax laws dealing with embryo stem cell research and medical operations are allowed than in the far restrictive United States. Further, the socialized medicine system in the UK makes major medical disasters such as this far more affordable and accessible to those that need medical help than in the United States, where even timid efforts at health care reform are viciously fought by some political conservatives in government, who buck at offering medical help to those who are not insured or cannot afford the medical care they require.
Katie Piper’s life will never be the same. But, the UK placed the health of it’s citizens above politics many years ago, making her costly medical treatments accessible to her. 110 painful operations later, Katie both looks better, is able to eyelids to close her eyes and sleep at night, and is having some vision restored to her blind eye thanks to the more advanced state of stem cell research in the UK. And she continues to prove to be an inspiration to many persons, and the face of crime victims who have rebounded from terrible violence.