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Graham's Story

Graham Elsmore survived 67% burns to his whole body in 1993

In 1993, I suffered 67% burns across my body including my neck, torso, arms and legs when a DIY task at home did not go as planned. Mr Gowar was the senior burns surgeon based at the A/E Burns Unit in Birmingham, I spent three-months in the burns unit receiving excellent care from the team. I was finally released home after these three-months, however I was in dressings head to toe.

Unfortunately, I found myself alone in a flat following a break up with my partner and my family were unable to accommodate me or provide the sufficient care I required at the time. After a few weeks of this I found myself in quite a depressed state, I turned to alcohol to get through the days. I was alone. The alchol helped me through my uncertain future due to my current state following the accident. If it was not for the ambulance crew that would take me back to the burns unit regularly to change my dressings I do not know how I would have got through this period of my life. I was so thankful to have my dressings changed by the team as they would become extremely hard and smelly after a few days and were very tender and terrifying to touch. The team would hoist me into a bath in order to remove the bandages, this was a very painful procedure but I was so thankful for the team; thankfully patients are now given sufficient pain relief to remove dressings!

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I was once asked; “What is so special about a Burns Unit?

Unless you have a really bad burn you will never fully understand how important and special the team are for your rehabilitation and getting back to a state of function. The faith and care the team have showed are the reason I am here today. I wanted to give up but I witnessed the vast amount of hard work the team put into my care and I knew I had to repay them by trying to recover to the best of my ability. It all started by opening the curtains or the doors in my flat, then I was able to start answering phone calls to family who were then able to come and take me shopping; these were first steps to becoming independent again.


In 2000, Mr Gowar stepped down as senior burns surgeon at Selly Oak and it was Professor Moimen who began to take the lead over my care. Prof Moimen introduced Integra and Matriderm to me, these are artificial skin implants that are able to replace tight scar contractures; over the years, Prof Moimen has used these innovative treatments across my neck, arms and legs to great effect improving my movement, mobility and most importantly my quality of life. I trialed my first artificial skin implant back in 2001 and have had them right up until 2020.

I have had 45 operations over the past 28 years across the entirety of my body, some procedures have been more successful than others but I have always agreed to new treatments and trials so professionals such as Prof Moimen are able to provide innovative care that has the best possible impact upon patient experiences and outcomes. I also have just began a 12 month laser treatment therapy programme with Ms Wilson at the Queen Elizabeth, I am hoping this is another ground-breaking treatment that will have a positive impact upon myself and future burns patients.

Following on from my accident I was starting to get out more and socialise with friends. In 1998, I was lucky enough to meet my partner Helen. A year later we had a son called Dean! Helen and Dean would always attend my hospital appointments with me and had a great rapport with the team just like myself. I always remember the days out that were organised by the team including the Christmas riverboat and the theatre. Me and my son have a great interest in fishing and now fish very regularly together, this would have never been possible without the exceptional treatment I have received. As a result of my accident my son has also taken great interest in healthcare and rehabilitation meaning he went to university to study physiotherapy and has just qualified with a first-class honours, he now hopes to get a job within the national health service at a local trust. Very much a proud dad moment!

I feel very honoured that I have been asked to become an Ambassador for The Scar Free Foundation! It would be truly remarkable to imagine that in years to come scars would no longer be such a burden for people. With my own experience of scarring as a result of burns and the trauma they leave behind I hope to fully support the burns unit and the Foundation to try and improve the quality of care they provide.

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