How surgeons helped save our lives after horrific crash during holiday nightmare
- Credit: Archant
It was meant to be the holiday of a lifetime.
But for Amy Wilson and Amber Quilter, a dream holiday ended with them fighting for their lives after an accident that left them lasting scars.
The friends, aged 26 and 28, travelled to Dubai for a break and on their fourth day embarked on a 4x4 safari.
Disaster struck when they were involved in a terrible accident, leaving them each with widespread burns across their legs, hands and arms.
They fortunately avoided injuries to their faces but were also left with muscle and tendon injuries due to the severity of their scarring.
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Unable to get the right level for treatment for such severe injuries on a general hospital ward in Dubai, Miss Wilson, who is from Ingatestone, and Miss Quilter, from Chelmsford, had to arrange to be flown home by private jet to the St Andrew’s Burns Unit at the Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford.
“Even flying home didn’t go well,” said Miss Wilson.
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“When we managed to get a jet together, the plane had a massive electrical malfunction and we had to do an emergency landing in Germany.
“We then had to spend a night in a hospital there and we flew back one by one the next day. I went first and then Amber came after me and that was the last time we saw each other for ages.”
On returning to the UK, the friends discovered they had both contracted a form of super-bug MRSA and were quarantined on arrival in Chelmsford.
Their injuries were extensive and recovery was made difficult because of the bug they had picked up.
The pair had to go through extensive rehab including physiotherapy which involved planned exercises to stretch the skin that was damaged in the accident.
They both also had a number of skin grafts to replace damaged areas of skin with healthier parts.
Miss Wilson still has one more operation planned for the end of the month to finish off the work that started almost a year ago.
Their care team helped them throughout this time, applying moisturiser and helping them with their stretches, even sitting with them on Christmas Day to keep them company.
This week the pair returned to the St Andrew’s Burns Unit, revisiting the nurses and doctors that looked after them throughout their recovery.
“The staff were incredible,” said Miss Quilter.
“They became a part of my family. They were our friends at times and obviously they saved our lives on numerous occasions. They are the most special people I’ll ever meet in my whole life.
“They said that they don’t often get to see many of their patients after they leave so it must be really nice for them to see how well we are doing.”
Now, nearly a year on from the accident, Miss Wilson and Miss Quilter are getting back to normal, planning to go to an Ed Sheeran concert that they could not attend last year.
Miss Wilson is also planning wedding, which is scheduled for next year.
“They say that recovery takes two years, but you never quite get back to how you were. It’s like a new normal,” said Miss Wilson.
“You have to adapt, but it’s hard.”
Miss Quilter added: “It has already nearly been a year and we have come so far. So this time next year I think we will be pretty much brand new. A few extra scars, but we are the same other than that.
“We are really determined and really positive that we will do everything we want to do.”
The Regional Burns Unit at St Andrews was officially opened in December 1982 by the Duchess of Kent after the public raised an incredible £400,000 to help pay for the centre.
The ward is now internationally renowned and has new technology which helps them care for a range of people including cleft lip and palate patients.