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90% BURNS; But miracle teenager, 16 survives flames horror.

A boy who suffered 90 per cent burns has become the first person in Britain to survive such horrific injuries.

David Chapman, 16, was so badly hurt that he did not have enough skin left to repair his body and surgeons had to graft skin onto him from members of his family.

Speaking yesterday for the first time since his accident nine months ago, David said: "Something kept me going. Maybe it was my mum and dad talking to me when I was paralysed."

Dad Noel, 42, who travels 60 miles a day to visit his son in hospital, said: "Everything apart from his head was badly burned. I told the hospital that if you fight for David he will fight for you. And he did." The teenager from Faversham, Kent, suffered 4th degree burns while filling his moped with petrol. David was airlifted to St Andrew's Hospital in Billericay, Essex, where surgeons spent 36 hours removing his dead skin.

For his first three weeks in hospital David spent seven hours in the operating theatre every every second day. He was given 90 pints of blood.

Doctors operated on his dad Noel, mum Val, and an uncle and aunt to get skin for skin grafts.

Burns specialist Mr Naiem Moiemen said: "When this began rejecting we had to use David's own skin. We had to take as much as we could from sites that escaped the burns and stretch it four times its size because of the large area it had to cover."

Now, after seven months in intensive care, Chelsea fan David is preparing to cheer on his team in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final.

He said: "I can move my right arm, my knuckles, elbow and shoulder. I can't move my toes yet, but I'm working on that."

The next stage in his treatment is intensive rehabilitation, but because David is the first Briton to survive such severe burns he must travel to Texas for that.

Noel said: "It's disgusting that there's nowhere in this country."

THE US hospital is treating David free, but he and his family must pay for their travel and living costs in Texas.

Donations can be made at any NatWest Bank sort code 53-61-24, account no 66732808.
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Author:Medical, JILL PALMER
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 9, 1997
Words:373
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