A burns victim has told how she lost eight toes after she was scalded while leaving a nightclub.
Kate Komleva was heading home from a night out in her native Yekaterinburg, Russia, in 2011 when a nearby pipe exploded.
The now 28-year-old mistakenly thought the steam from the broken pipe was fog.
After walking through it, the ‘searing pain’ caused Ms Komleva to go ‘into shock’ and even left her thinking ‘she was dying’.
Ms Komleva, whose body was covered in 30 per cent burns, endured a 57-day stint in hospital.
Over the next two years, the burns survivor underwent a total of 20 operations, where medics removed her toes and the dead skin on the soles of her feet.
Kate Komleva (pictured left recently) lost eight toes after she was scalded while leaving a nightclub in 2011. The now 28-year-old endured a 57-day stint in hospital (pictured right) and a total of 20 operations to amputate the digits and remove dead skin from her soles
Ms Komleva burnt her legs and feet (pictured) while walking through the steam in heels
Speaking of the ordeal, Ms Komleva said: ‘It was just by chance I was first in the line to leave.
‘The security staff opened the door and I ran across the club’s terrace and into the car park.
‘I was wearing heels and could feel the ground was wet, but I thought it had just been raining.
‘It was dark and I could barely see my hand in front of my face, I assumed it was foggy.
‘Then the searing pain hit me and my body went into shock and I felt completely disorientated.’
Ms Komleva immediately started screaming in pain, which stopped any other club-goers entering the ‘fog’.
‘I [thought I] was actually dying and I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye to my family,’ she said.
‘The scorching hot water was already up by [my] tights and approaching my thighs as I saw a man in the porch so I started moving towards him as fast as I could.’
By this time an ambulance had been called, however, Ms Komleva claims the fog was too deep for the emergency vehicle to reach her.
‘Thankfully my friends got in their car and drove through to save me,’ she said.
Ms Komleva (pictured left five hours before the incident) mistakenly thought steam from the broken pipe was fog and walked through it. Pictured right recently, Ms Komleva claims the ‘searing pain’ caused her body to go ‘into shock’ and even left her thinking ‘she was dying’
Eight years on, the burns that covered 30 per cent of her body are still visible on her legs
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
Once at hospital, Ms Komleva’s long road to recovery began.
‘I spent 57 days in hospital and underwent two surgeries to remove all the dead skin cells and two of my toes,’ she said.
‘Little did I know there would be 18 more surgeries in the future.’
After more than eight weeks in hospital, Ms Komleva was finally discharged.
‘I still hadn’t seen my new foot,’ she said.
‘I was so scared too scared to look at it without the bandages.’
‘I invited some friends to my house who brought champagne and we had a count down to reveal my new foot.
‘It felt like we were celebrating something.’
Ms Komleva initially had just four toes removed before opting to have another four amputated to ease the discomfort in her feet.
‘Over a year later, I asked a doctor in Germany to remove the other four toes on my left foot,’ she said.
‘The reconstruction caused me pain.’
Ms Komleva then spent the next two years in and out of specialist hospitals in Moscow, Germany and Israel, where she endured numerous skin and muscle grafts.
Despite all she has been through, Ms Komleva insists she is the happiest she has ever been.
‘Before the incident, I had no ambitions but now I am happier and determined to live my life to the full,’ she said.
‘I have written a book, travelled a lot and I’ve even been asked to collaborate with Nike.
‘If someone said I could turn back time for this accident not to happen, I would refuse as I am much happier now.
‘The night where my body was 30 per cent burnt has made me realise life is a treasure.’
She added: ‘I don’t care about how my legs look as long as I feel no pain then I feel perfect.
‘I love my scars as they remind me how happy I am to be alive.’