A seven-year-old girl who suffered 86 per cent burns to her body when she fell into a scalding bath as a baby is having her leg amputated – so she can WALK for the first time.
Brave Tilly Sawford’s injuries were so severe after the accident when she was just 15 months old doctors gave her just a five per cent chance of survival.
Her devastated parents Emma, 28, and Kyle, 28, were warned five times she wouldn’t survive during her six-month treatment in intensive care.
But the battling youngster defied medics after having a staggering 340 operations – including having shark cartilage and cow collagen grafted onto her blistered skin.
Incredibly, despite falling head-first into the bath of scorching water, the only place she did not get burned was her face.
Tilly has undergone a surgery to repair damaged skin and to straighten her legs which became deformed as a result of the deep scarring to her limbs.
But wheelchair-bound Tilly now faces an operation to amputate her badly damaged right leg – so she can have a prosthetic limb fitted to help her take her first steps.
Her mum Emma said her daughter was looking forward to having a “robot leg”.
The full-time mum-of-five, who lives with husband Kyle in Strelley, Nottingham, added: “I was a little bit upset at first when the doctors first gave us the news.
“But it’s got to be the best option for Tilly.
“She says she is getting a ‘robot leg’ and that she will be able to chase people around.
“We have got to try anything to get her back to where she wants to be – she wants to walk.
“She will be in hospital for around four months and will need intense physiotherapy.”
Before the operation, Tilly will have to have surgery on her other ‘good’ leg in September in order to make it stronger.
The operation at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham will involve straightening the limb and replacing scar tissue at the back of the knee.
Her rehabilitation through physiotherapy will then determine when the amputation takes place next year.
Tilly’s consultant surgeon at QMC, Ciaran O’Boyle, said it was “heart-breaking” to have to perform the procedure on someone so young.
He added: “Over the last year it has become apparent that if we were to do more extensive reconstructive surgery to try to maintain that leg and get it straight there’s a very high chance we would actually do more harm than good.
“So in order to enable her to get back on her feet again an amputation of that leg is the best option for her.”
Tilly suffered the appalling injuries on March 8, 2009, after her brother accidentally turned the hot tap on while she climbed on a beanbag which was next to the bath.
Because of a fault with the boiler, the water was scalding after a few seconds – moments before Tilly tumbled into the half-full bath in the family home.
Emma, who has four other children, Toby, 11, Kaden, nine, Elise, five, and one-year-old Daisy-May, said: “I heard a scream and ran back upstairs. Tilly was in the bath tub. She must have leaned over and fallen in.
“Her eyes rolled back and she went unconscious with the pain.”
“I picked her up straight away and pulled the plug out. Her skin was coming off in my hands.
“I think I started to go into shock, I couldn’t speak properly, it was awful.
“Tilly was only in the water for seconds but it was enough to cause her to pass out with the pain.
“On the night we went to hospital doctors turned round to us and said she wouldn’t make it through the next few hours.
“It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me, my world started to fall apart. I genuinely thought I’d lost my daughter.”
Doctors told the couple to expect the worst after they said they had never seen a child with worse burns.
But she made an incredible recovery and even took a few steps while recovering in Birmingham.
The schoolgirl now uses a walking frame or a pair of crutches to help her get around at school and when she is at home.
Despite her horrific injuries, Tilly is thriving as a pupil at Djanogly Strelley Academy in Strelley.
The school is hosting a ‘party in the park’ on July 11 with money raised going to the burns unit at Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital, where Tilly had the majority of her surgery.
Headteacher Tim Jeffs said: “Tilly is going to have a major operation and as a school, as always, we will do absolutely everything we can to support her to keep her integrated into everyday life at school.”