13 January 2006

Omagh bomb victim speaks out after pioneering surgery in France

Belfast Telegraph

Donna: I will never get a face transplant

By Claire McNeilly
13 January 2006

A survivor of the Omagh bombing has said there is "not a chance in hell" she would consider having a face transplant.

Donna Marie McGillion was speaking after Isabelle Dinoire, the woman who had the world's first facial transplant, emerged from hospital in France.

Donna Marie survived the Co Tyrone atrocity which killed 29 people, as well as unborn twins, and injured 350 others in 1998.

However, she suffered third degree burns on more than 65% of her body and has so far endured a staggering 24 operations on her face alone.

She also had to wear a plastic mask for three-and-a-half years, and had a further 18 months of facial injections to prevent her scars from becoming "raised and lumpy".

"It was hard when I woke after the bomb and realised the way I look, but at least it was still all me," she said.

"After a face transplant I would be thinking I had someone else's face and I would be wondering 'how did they die?' "

Rejecting the surgical face transplant option outright, the local lady added: "It is great to see medical science has evolved, but it's not for me. There are too many psychological aspects to be considered."

Since the bomb, seven years ago, Donna Marie and husband Gary have a four-year-old daughter called Cara - and it seems the joys of motherhood keep her upbeat.

"I still go to the burns unit and still have corrective procedures," she said.

"At the minute I am fine, but there are new things coming along all the time - like false skin - and obviously if it could improve my appearance I would have to seriously consider it, though I would be afraid of making things worse."

Donna Marie also heaped praise on her family and friends for helping her to cope with her appearance and her life after the bombing

"Early on I would have loved just not to have to go out of the door at all, and even now, if I could deny the fact I was in the bomb I would. But it is there constantly in my face.

"You can't stop people staring and you can't change the way the world views you, but you can change the way you look at things. It is all down to your own perception."

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