Epileptic mother passes out on top of her curling tongs during seizure leaving her with horrific burns that need skin grafts and six operations to repair
- Brittney Sullivan, from Cleburne in Texas, was found by her daughter
- She needed six operations and a full skin graft to repair the damage to her face
- The mother-of-three suffered damage to the skin around her eye but can see
A mother who suffers from epilepsy needed six operations and drastic surgery to repair her face after she collapsed face-first onto hot curling tongs.
Brittney Sullivan, 32, was found on the bathroom floor by her eight-year-old daughter after passing out during a seizure and suffering third degree burns.
Most of the left side of Mrs Sullivan’s face was badly burned in the freak accident and she has had multiple surgeries to try and repair the skin.
Now left scarred but still able to see out of both eyes, Mrs Sullivan said she is coming to terms with her injuries to show people beauty isn’t just skin deep.
Brittney Sullivan (pictured left), 32, had an epileptic seizure and was found unconscious face-down on hot hair-curling tongs which left her with third degree burns across much of the left side of her face (pictured right)
Mrs Sullivan has, since recovering, said she tries to focus on beauty beyond what is skin deep, and runs a support group to help other people do the same thing
Mrs Sullivan had been getting ready for work one morning in January 2018 when she had a seizure while styling her hair and collapsed in the bathroom.
‘I was standing in my bathroom, curling my hair getting ready for work, and the next thing I knew I’d woken up in hospital,’ she said.
‘My daughter Makennah, who was eight at the time, found me on the bathroom floor and got in touch with my parents.
‘My dad took the kids to school and my mum took me to hospital. When I found out the extent of my injuries I cried and thought “I’m never going to be beautiful”.
‘It took me a week before I could look in the mirror. A million things went through my mind. Was my husband going to leave me? Would my kids be scared of me?’
Mrs Sullivan, from Cleburne in Texas, lives with her husband, David, 36 and their children Makennah, now 10, Presley, seven, and James, two.
After spending 12 days in hospital Mrs Sullivan, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2013, began the long road back to recovery.
She needed skin grafts to replace the destroyed flesh on her face, and would later have reconstructive surgeries to reduce scar tissue and make her left eye usable.
Mrs Sullivan was discovered by her daughter Makennah, who was eight at the time, who phoned Mrs Sullivan’s parents to get help
Mrs Sullivan needed six surgeries including major skin grafts (Pictured: After the first major skin graft and during a skin expansion procedure in April last year – the procedure is designed to stretch skin and avoid new scar tissue tightening up)
Makennah, pictured with her mother, is now 10 years old. When she found her mother collapsed in the bathroom she phoned her grandparents and Mrs Sullivan’s own mother took her to hospital
One of these included a tissue expansion procedure, in which a plastic balloon is inserted under the skin to stretch the new growth and prevent tight new scar tissue.
Mrs Sullivan said: ‘In January this year I had surgery to have my eyelids, nose and lip repaired, however the skin grafts didn’t take.
‘Last week I had my eyelid redone because of that, and four days later doctors repaired my bottom eyelid.
‘The worst surgery was the first full skin graft – I’ve got used to the others.’
Mrs Sullivan praised her daughter for staying calm when she found in her the bathroom last year, saying: ‘She didn’t freak out she did exactly what she was trained to do in case of an emergency.
Mrs Sullivan is pictured with her husband, David, and their children Makennah, 10 (left), Presley, seven (right) and James, two
Mrs Sullivan spent 12 days in hospital recovering from her ordeal and has since needed extra surgery to reconstruct her face
Texas resident Mrs Sullivan, pictured with her husband, David, said: ‘My family has been amazing’
‘While taking care of me she was also telling her sister and brother it was going to be okay. I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming.
‘Presley is my daily nurse and makes sure I’m okay and have taken my medicine. Every day she asks “mommy, did you take your [epilepsy] medicine?”‘
But despite the accident which left her permanently disfigured, Mrs Sullivan still uses curling tongs.
Mrs Sullivan had been preparing to start a job as a transaction co-ordinator when she had the horrifying accident (pictured before)
And she now runs a support group called Beauty Within Brittney to help others focus on their inner beauty.
‘Once I finally saw myself in hospital,’ Mrs Sullivan said, ‘I just thought “I’m tired of being insecure and so I’m going to be beautiful and show everyone the beauty within me”.
‘Through this, I support others to find their beauty – no matter how different they are.
‘I am beautiful no matter my weight, my looks or my scars. Everyone should see the beauty within themselves.’
WHAT ARE BURNS?
Burns are damage to the skin caused by dry heat, such as an iron or a fire.
This is different to scalds, which occur due to wet heat like hot water or steam.
Burns can be very painful and may cause:
- Red or peeling skin
- White or charred skin
But the amount of pain a person feels is not always related to how serious the burn is.
Even a very serious burn can be painless.
To treat a burn:
- Remove the heat source
- Cool with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes. Do not use ice
- Remove any nearby clothing or jewellery unless it is stuck to the skin
- Keep the person warm with a blanket
- Cover the burn with clingfilm
- Use painkillers like paracetamol if necessary
- If the face or eyes are burnt, keep sitting up to reduce swelling
Burns that require immediate A&E treatment are:
- Chemical or electrical
- Large or deep – bigger than the injured person’s hand
- Those that cause white or charred skin
- Those on the face, hands, limbs, feet or genitals that blister
Pregnant women, children under five, the elderly, those with a weak immune system and people suffering from a medical condition, like diabetes, should also go to hospital.
Treatment depends on what layers of the skin are affected.
In severe cases, a skin graft may be required.
Source: NHS Choices
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