Caerphilly burns girl returns to classes with new hair
A schoolgirl who suffered 25% burns as a toddler that left her partly bald has gone back to classes after doctors grew her a new "piggyback" head of hair.
Sidra Afzal, nine, from Fleur-de-Lys, near Caerphilly, had treatment at Morriston Hospital, Swansea.
The hair was grown on a skin "balloon" filled with gel, then stretched over her damaged scalp. Doctors have given her the all-clear to return to school.
Sidra said: ""I'm very happy to be back at school, I've missed everyone."
She added: "I cried a lot when I didn't have any hair because I wanted to look like all my friends.
"But now I have my hair back and I love brushing it and playing with it. It's just lovely.
"I'm very happy to be back at school, I've missed everyone."
Sidra, who says she wants to be a burns doctor when she is older, was scarred with hot cooking oil in an accident at home at age two.
Her scalp was left hairless and scarred along the left side of her head.
The tissue expansion procedure used by doctors at Morriston Hospital saw an empty balloon implanted under Sidra's healthy scalp.
It was slowly filled with a special gel at the rate of six teaspoons full each week, with the healthy skin and hair stretching around it, until it contained more than a litre of liquid and was as big as Sidra's real head.
Surgeons removed the balloon and pulled the new skin and hair follicles over the scarred side of Sidra's head.
But it did not cover the whole area of her scalp and the youngster had to undergo the entire procedure again.
Sidra had the stitches removed six weeks ago and has returned to Fleur-de-Lys primary school, near Caerphilly, after being away from classes for most of 2010.
Her mother Saba, 42, said: "She has been so brave and never complains even though she has suffered terrible pain and headaches.
She added: "Even if it had not worked she would still have been my beautiful daughter with the most magical smile you've ever seen."
Dr Bill Dickson, director of the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, at Morriston Hospital, said: "The expanded skin has successfully covered all the baldness she had.
"It was a complex operation but the commitment shown by Sidra in the months leading up to this operation has been remarkable.
"She is a very cheerful child and has been co-operative throughout, even though there were times it must have been uncomfortable for her."