Woman, 20, who suffered terrible burns as a baby when a scarf used to wrap her up was set alight by other children is set to receive a face transplant in Turkey
- Leyla Demirci, 20, was burned as an infant at her home in Kahramanmaras
- She was shunned at high school and her appearance terrified her peers
- Ms Demirci’s story has prompted an outpouring of sympathy in Turkey
- Today Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca said he was closely following her case
A 20-year-old woman who suffered terrible burns as a baby when a scarf wrapped around her was set alight by her cousins is set to receive a face transplant in Turkey.
Leyla Demirci was just one-and-a-half months old when she was taken from her bath and swaddled in a cot by her mother at the family home in Kahramanmaras province, in the Mediterranean region.
Her young cousins had been playing with fire in the room when the tragic accident occurred and the scarf around her face went up in flames.
Shunned by her peers who were terrified of her face, Ms Demirci was schooled at home for much of her childhood.
But now she wants the help of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to join society, and Erdogan’s health minister tweeted his support for Ms Demirci’s transplant on Tuesday.
Leyla Demirci, 20, was just an infant when she suffered severe burns after a scarf around her face caught fire
Her father, Said Demirci, said that he was unemployed and unable to afford plastic surgery for his daughter
Health minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca tweeted his support for Ms Demirci today and said he would ‘closely monitor’ her condition
Health minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca said: ‘Leyla, the girl waiting for a face transplant, is being treated by Prof. Dr. Ömer Özkan, and a donor is being sought.
‘The support it needs in this process will be provided by our Ministry. I closely monitor our daughter’s condition and wish her well-being and healing.’
To date, Dr Özkan has completed five of the seven face transplants carried out in Turkey.
Ms Demirci told Haber Turk: ‘When I was one-and-a-half months old, my mother bathed me and put me in a cradle and covered my face with a scarf.
‘At that time, my uncle’s children burned the scarf while playing with fire. After that, my face was like this.’
She described how she was fortunate to find a teacher who taught her at home.
‘They didn’t take me to school,’ Ms Demirci said. ‘They were afraid of me.’
She has attended specialist appointments biannually at a hospital in Antalya, hundreds of miles from her home.
Ms Demirci was shunned at school for her appearance which terrified other students
Ms Demirci is being treated by Dr. Ömer Özkan who has carried out five of the seven face transplants carried out in Turkey
‘I am waiting for help from our President. I go to our tests and I’m treated.’ Ms Demirci said.
Her father, Said Demirci, said he was desperate for his daughter to have a transplant but because he was unemployed, he could not afford the plastic surgery.
The first ever face transplant was carried out in France in 2005, when Isabelle Dinoire underwent a 15-hour transfer of a nose, lips and chin from a brain-dead donor at a hospital in Amiens.
Ms Dinoire underwent the groundbreaking treatment after she was mauled by her dog.
In March 2010, the world’s first full face transplant was completed by 30 Spanish doctors on a man who had been injured in a shooting accident.
The transplant, at a Barcelona hospital, included complete facial skin and muscles, eyelids, nose, lips, upper jaw, all his teeth, the palate, cheekbones and lower jaw.
Full and partial face transplants have been carried out in France, China, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Canada, the United States and Britain.