Dr Ridwan Mia, who is credited with saving the life of a three year burn victim, spoke about his personal journey at Wits yesterday.
Mia, who has achieved national fame as a result of his work with ‘Pippie” Kruger, was speaking at a symposium organised by the Golden Key Society.
Mia was the last of a group of illustrious speakers, including Penny Heyns and Prof Meyersfeld, who left the audience with a sense of positivity and the realisation about the change a single person can make in someone’s life.
Using graphic images on a presentation Mia talked the audience through Pippie’s surgery from the time she was first brought to the hospital. He contrasted these with photos of her now which clearly showed the remarkable change.
Mia said: “When she first came to the hospital we used to call her the ‘Michelin Baby’ as she was so huge with all the bandages.”
Three year-old Pippie was severely burnt in an accident at home when hot braai gel landed on her entire body and burnt through her skin and her fatty tissue. 80% of her body was burnt.
Mia explained that this happened when she was two and a half years old, on New Years Eve of 2011. It took her four hours to get to the hospital after she had been burnt and a gruelling six months of intensive surgery to stabilize her.
Pippie was put under anaesthetic an astounding 52 times and went into cardiac arrest 5 times before doctors managed to resuscitate her.
Mia said: “Her mom was very distressed through the process but later she became a very strong woman. Her dad, who is a professional hunter, was consumed with guilt and trauma and need psychology during the process.”
Mia performed a ground breaking surgery in medicine when he was the first doctor to use cloned skin in Africa.
“We had to apply to the department of Health to deport skin,” said Mia. Two pieces of Pippie’s skin each sized 2 x 6 cm was sent to the Genzyme Laboratories in the states where they have machinery which is able to clone skin to 10 000 times its size.
“It was an emotional journey for me and the family and there was times when we had to stop surgery because it became too much.”
Mia explained that this process alone was difficult because transporting the skin back to South Africa was stressful as the skin is only usable within 24 hours. Mia said: “We put the skin on Pippie with no less than 15 minutes to spare. “
Although Pippie constantly shows signs of further improvement, in the future she will be at high risk of cancer, she cannot be exposed to the sunlight and she cannot be a donor of any kind. However, she is can now walk, talk and recognise faces. “She will continue to recover,” said Mia.
After this long journey with the Kruger family Mia said: “It was an emotional journey for me and the family and there were times when we had to stop surgery because it became too much.”
- Wits Vuvuzela. WITS NEWS: Ridwan Mia main speaker at Golden Key symposium. September 17, 2013.
- Wits Vuvuzela. GALLERY: Golden Key Society members shine. July 26, 2103.
- Wits Vuvuzela. Meeting of great minds: Golden Key corporate breakfast. April 20, 2013.