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How you can help patients like brave little Anton survive.

Byline: By Rhona Ganguly

Anton Turner was only six years old when a gas fire in his Black Country home set his clothes alight last year - burning half of his body.

With no intensive care beds available in Birmingham, the only life-saving treatment available for the youngster from Chuckery in Walsall was at burns units in Edinburgh or Liverpool.

Paramedics rushed him to the Liverpool hospital, where doctors informed his mother Zoe that her son had a one-in-four chance of survival.

Eventually Anton was transferred to Birmingham Children's Hospital and has already had two skin graft operations, with damaged skin replaced by artificial skin.

At the launch of the Red Balloon Appeal yesterday - a campaign aimed at raising pounds 500,000 for the new Paediatric Burns Centre at Birmingham Children's Hospital - Anton's mother described the accident.

"His clothes caught fire from the gas fire and he went up like a fireball," she said. "He was in flames coming towards me. It was horrific, especially when they said there was a one-in-four chance.

"There were no beds in Birmingham so he had to go to Liverpool. They blue-lighted us up the motorway - it was too dark for the helicopter.

"But in Liverpool he was surrounded by strangers and strange accents. He was in bed for three weeks but wouldn't get up or eat.

"He was transferred to Birmingham and within an hour of him being here, he was out of his bed. The staff were absolutely amazing."

As a part of yesterday's event, Anton was one of a group of children who released some of the 500 red balloons used to launch the campaign.

Brian Woods-Scawen, chairman of the appeal, said the 500 balloons represented every child in the UK who suffers severe burns each year.

He said the cost of the centre was nearly pounds 19 million, with pounds 16 million already provided by the NHS.

So far, pounds 2.5 million has been raised but now the campaign is appealing to the public to help raise the final pounds 500,000 for the centre, which officially opens in October.

Dr Woods-Scawen said: "We have 140 days to raise the remainder. That is a big task but we are confident that with everyone's help we can do it.

"We are appealing to clubs, schools, office and factory workers, businesses, pubs and shops - everyone - to ensure that when the doors to the new centre officially open in October, severely-burned children are treated and cared for, in the most advanced facility in Europe.

"The hospital already has the best clinical team. Now we're intent on providing the best environment for our children."

Paul O'Connor, Birmingham Children's Hospital chief executive, said: "Burns are among the most traumatic of injuries. This new centre will provide the best possible care to children who face this trauma."

rhonaganguly@mrn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

The balloon goes up on the launch of the new Birmingham Children's Hospital burns unit appeal in Victoria Square TR150507RED-2 Picture, TREVOR ROBERTS
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 16, 2007
Words:500
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