School comes first for brave Luton burns survivor Shamiam

Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif with specialist occupational therapist Allyson Ballard
Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif with specialist occupational therapist Allyson Ballard

Last year was full of excitement tinged with apprehension for brave Luton burns survivor Shamiam Arif.

The 14-year-old Challney Girls High pupil saw renowned hand surgeon Professor Simon Kay in Leeds as well as visiting a team of specialist prosthetists/orthotists at Dorset Orthopaedics in Ringwood to discuss the possibility of a hand transplant or mechanical limbs.

Shamiam was badly burned as a baby in Kashmir. She lost both her hands in the blaze and her skull was burned down to the lining of her brain.

She came to this country for life-saving surgery and was treated by her beloved “Uncle Doctor” – Professor Peter Dziewulski of St Andrews Centre for Burns at Chelmsford Hospital.

He carried out the Krukenberg Procedure that converts the forearm into two “fingers”. And she has become so adept at using her special digits that the professionals who saw her were amazed.

Dorset Orthopaedics MD David Hill said: “She does very well functionally with her bilateral residual limbs and we would really struggle to offer her prostheses that did not interfere with this.”

Specalist occupational therapist Allyson Ballard was also impressed.

She said: “Shamiam is a remarkable young woman who carries herself with grace and confidence.

“She has demonstrated such resilience and conducts herself with such strength that many should watch and follow her lead.”

Professor Kay felt that Shamiam should concentrate on her studies for the next couple of years when he would see her again, if she wished.

The feisty teenager who dreams of being a teaching assistant or journalist will now put further surgery behind her until she completes her GCSEs and a college course.

Send donations to the Shamiam Arif Appeal, 148-164 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham, NG7 5JE.