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Turia's story

By Turia

I was badly burned during an ultra-marathon in 2011. After we were rescued I was put in an induced coma and airlifted to Darwin. It was there that doctors performed an eschartomy - on me – slicing me from my feet to my thighs and from my hands to my shoulders. After Darwin, I was flown to Concord in Sydney.

After the doctors debrided (removed) my dead and burned skin they needed something to 'cover' me. As there was absolutely no skin tissue available in Australia they ended up using a synthetic skin replacement.

Sometimes there's no substitute for the real thing and this turned out to be true in my case. My doctors frantically searched the world for some skin tissue and managed to find some in America.

Then came their next problem. In Australia, it is illegal to import any skin tissue - customs would not let the package of life-saving skin through. In a race against time, my doctors put it plain and simple: 'if you do not let this skin through, she will die'.

The skin was rushed to the hospital, where the doctors performed miracles. Not only did they bring me back from death twice, but they also managed to put me in a relatively stable condition.

I want to debunk a few myths about skin donation here. Firstly, all the skin I have on my body is my own skin.

Because I was burned so badly, I didn't have enough unburned skin for the doctors to harvest and graft - they used cadaver (donated) skin to cover me while my own skin grew.

Only 1 out of 100 of people who die will make suitable organ donors. This number jumps significantly when you start talking about skin and other tissue - it's one in five. I was dumbfounded when I found out that there was no skin available in Australia.

I will be eternally grateful to the three Americans who donated their skin. Without it, I definitely would have died, and I definitely wouldn't be here today to tell my story.

Turia