Long road to recovery for victims of Hong Kong MTR arson attack
The months that follow treatment can be just as painful, support group member says.
Victims of Friday night’s MTR firebombing that suffered severe burns might require skin transplants and are likely to endure long and painful recoveries even after multiple surgeries, experts said.
Dr Axel Siu Yuet-chung, vice-president of College of Emergency Medicine, said passengers who sustained third-degree burns during the harrowing train ride may have to undergo skin grafting, depending on the range and depth of the wounds.
A representative from a patients’ support group described burn injuries as among the most painful and problematic wounds of all, and that it often takes years for patients to fully recover.
“When we say ‘get well soon’, it really does not mean anything,” Joyce Chan of Hong Kong Burns Association said.
“The path to recovery can take a very long time.”
Chan, who joined the group after her infant son suffered serious burn injures 20 years ago, said it is very difficult for a mother to watch her children go through such pain and witness their struggles through recovery.
“The wound dressings have to be changed every day and the cleaning process is so painful that no painkillers can reduce the suffering, as the nurse has to remove all the dead skin by debridement.” she said.
If the injury covers a large part of the body, the pain is so excruciating that the patient often requires morphine injections, Chan added.
According to the patient support group, skin grafts are often taken from other parts of the victim’s body, or from a donor. The latter, however, could mean a higher chance of complications.
Patients who have grafts on their legs, for example, should remain in bed for about 10 days. For months afterwards, however, the grafted skin requires constant care and needs to be lubricated daily with oil to keep it moist.