Shamaim to have unique head piece

Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif at GOSH with Linda Barr from her appeal committee (left) and craniofacial consultant Justine O'Hara

Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif at GOSH with Linda Barr from her appeal committee (left) and craniofacial consultant Justine O'Hara

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Brave Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif is to be measured for a unique prosthetic implant and wig that will not only protect the soft spot in her head but will also enable her to have the fringe she’s always wanted.

The Challney Girls High student, who turns 13 next month, suffered devastating injuries as a baby. Her skull was burned down to the lining of her brain when the wind blew a candle into her cot in Kashmir. She also lost both hands.

The multi-disciplinary team who look after her at Great Ormond Street Hospital had been considering a ground-breaking operation to insert a titanium plate in her head but have decided the risks outweigh the benefits.

Craniofacial paediatric plastic surgeon Justine O’Hara said: “The prosthetic headpiece offers a low risk, big win option.”

It would comprise a custom-made metal plate covered by a wig and with a soft silicone base, providing both comfort and protection.

Ms O’Hara said there was no strong evidence to suggest that patients with cranial defects caused by birth, accidents or burns were significantly more likely to encounter problems.

She said: “Shamiam has skin grafted on to the dura layer above her brain. There is also a major blood vessel running close to the surface. It is a very delicate area and there would be substantial risks attached to surgery.”

Shamiam has always been fiercely independent and is considered a positive role model at school where she impresses everyone with her ‘can do’ attitude.

She has just won three end-of-year prizes – Progress in PE, Progress in Spanish and the prestigious Headteacher’s award which is given to only four pupils attending the 1,000-strong school.