18th Aug 2017 8:13:10 PM

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Perlucia













































On Monday 21st September 2015, around 3pm, Perlucia went into surgery at the Horder Healthcare’s McIndoe Centre in East Grinstead, West Sussex, United Kingdom.
In purple pen they drew upon her skin.
Small sterile white tape measures recorded the length of the grafts to be stitched: beneath the left eye; beneath the right eye; above the right eye.
They wrote the sizes on the whiteboard.
Forceps with dark blue thread pulled the skin away, weighting it down to make the path clear for the shiny scalpel’s blade
Again the surgeon drew upon her skin, beneath Perlucia’s soft tummy.
Assistants prepared the site.
They injected adrenaline to curb the bleeding.
Anaesthetist Dr Syed Ali and assistant Tom chatted with calculators, checking their patient’s miniscule body weight and calculating how much of this and that could safely be administered.
They diluted doses and calculated again, how long medication would take to pass through her body.
Mr Raman Malhotra, ophthalmic plastics surgeon, added the three grafts together, confirmed the width and sliced a neat long sliver of dark skin.
I thought that if Perlucia was awake, she’d have chuckled and said that it looked like a slug.
That’s her sense of humour.
With the excised skin tucked between damp white gauzes, then he sutured the linear scar.
The small curved needle made scimitar strokes through her skin.
Translucent Lilliputian-scale dissolvable stitches for a 19.2 kilogram girl.
A sear of scarlet was closed to a gentle brown hue; the finest tailoring Perlucia could wear.
And then the harvested skin, retrieved from the gauze and made-to-measure eyelids delicately, patiently, were attached to her sleeping face.
Finally Mr Asit Khandwala, plastics hand surgeon, joined the team, leaving his other patient in recovery.
He sliced skin he’d earmarked earlier from the other side of her groin.
The operating team applied tight bandages to Perlucia’s forearm and vigorously squeezed the blood back towards her skinny shoulder.
They applied a tourniquet and wrote the start time on the operating theatre whiteboard. One and a half hours max.
More injections and blockers and then the little girl’s hand that had been flame-welded into a clumsy mitten for the past six years, was cut into.
A deeper cut in much thicker tissue than the mere skin-harvesting elsewhere on her body.
With the recreated between-fingers-web, more slivers of groin skin were used to re-coat the index finger that had emerged.
Anxiously the time was checked again and again, to ensure that the tourniquet was not on for too long.
Mr Malhotra assisted by re-stitching the second groin incision into a fine line.
A tailor of note for the sleeping princess.
Some six hours after she sent into theatre, Perlucia awoke.
She asked “Mama why can’t I see?”
After the bandages were re-explained to her, she sang: “Nkosi Sikeleli iAfrika” and fell asleep again.
For the country that helped her when Africa gave up, this time she should maybe have sung: “God save our gracious Queen” instead.
Bronwen Jones, Perlucia’s foster mother and Founder of Children of Fire.





Captain Perlucia flying in to Heathrow



Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston wants to stand for Mayor of London. He met Perlucia in September 2015



Perlucia’s new way of wearing socks 2015



Scottish Thistles, Perlucia, Hampstead Heath











Perlucia presses the Cornet stops



Perlucia in purple trousers, swinging with her friends. April 2014





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