Pro-golfer survives horror burns and five-week coma after bonfire explosion
A professional golfer suffered horrific burns on more than 50% of her body after a bonfire went wrong but through dogged determination she is back playing the game.
Aimee Sawyer, 27, from Midsomer Norton near Bath, was involved in a freak accident that saw third degree burns on most of her body including all of her limbs, reported Somerset Live.
Aimee was airlifted to Southmead Hospital and during the flight had to be resuscitated. She then spent five weeks in a medically induced coma and was told she may never be able to play golf again.
Her "strong spirit" and absolute love of golf saw her make a miraculous recovery which saw her pick up a golf club for the first time since the accident a few weeks ago.
Aimee said: "What happened was a freak accident so I'd like to raise awareness of it and stop someone else having what happened to me happen to them."
On August 12, 2020, Aimee and her older brother Darol, 29, were clearing some rubbish from their parents' back garden while they were away on holiday.
Construction worker Darol said: "There was a lot of rubbish at my parents house that needed clearing.
"Aimee said she would give me a hand as it was a very hot day, I remember saying she doesn't need to but she wanted to help me out.
"Unfortunately we put petrol on the fire and once Aimee lit the bonfire it exploded in her face. I turned around and she was engulfed in the fire, a box had blew out on to her covering her arm.
"I pulled her away and quickly got her in the shower to put the flames out.
"One of the neighbours had heard the explosion and called emergency services. In a blur paramedics, the fire brigade and an air ambulance came."
While being airlifted to hospital, Aimee had to be resuscitated.
Darol continued: "I got a call at around 9.15pm from Aimee to say they were going to put her into a coma and that she might not wake up, that this might be her last call.
"It was so shocking, it's hard to describe, it was something we had done countless times, absolutely countless times with no problems."
Aimee was rushed to the specialist burns unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea and it was unknown if she would survive.
The 27-year-old was in a critical condition and had a number of emergency surgeries to clear her wounds, along with skin grafts from her back and stomach – the only unaffected skin left on her body.
She was also forced to undergo a tracheotomy as her vocal cords were damaged.
During this period, Aimee suffered with other complications, contracting sepsis, a chest infection and she had fluid on her lungs.
Aimee woke up from the coma a number of times and had to be sedated again as her injuries were too severe.
Once Aimee was strong enough, they slowly woke her from the coma, but at this point she was still critically unwell and had a long road to recovery ahead of her.
The staff on the Tempest ward continued to work around the clock to support Aimee with her every need, this including constant and very painful dressing changes, chest physio and eventually the start of her rehabilitation.
Aimee and Darol are now fundraising to raise money for the burns unit which saved her life and have a GoFundMe that has so far raised £3,500.
Aimee said: "It's weird, the GoFundMe sort of brought some of the early days back to me. I think I had dismissed a lot of it, not really processed it all.
"I knew early on that if I chose to get negative about it all it would impede my recovery, my only choice was to be strong – which is weird.
"I'd want other people to understand that they are stronger than they think they are, as that is what I found out about myself.
"I've always been an all or nothing type of person so to be faced with a challenge where you're only option is to be strong meant that is exactly what I did.
"When I woke up my first question was 'Am I dead?' my second one was 'Am I going to die?' and the nurse said 'no we're not going to let you go'."
She added: "I looked down and saw I still had my arm and hand which was great, as I thought I was going to lose it as I could see the tendons before they knocked me out. That gave me hope that I could get back to playing golf and just 10 months later I was playing golf again.
"When I woke up though I thought I had Covid because I had a tube down my throat and a fluid on my lungs and I thought 'oh no Aimee what have you done here'. My parents weren't allowed in because of Covid so I was a bit confused if I had caught it.
"I remembered the accident though in perfect detail, I also remember having dreams while in the coma. Each one was like a life or death situation and I was fighting to stay alive in them.
"It was quite a journey to get to this point, in all honestly it has been a full year where I have been in survival mode just going day by day.
"I could see that everyone who loved me was hurt too, they were injured by what had happened so I wanted to recover for them too. I'm very lucky that I have such a strong foundation – such a strong loving family behind me, I'm luckier than most.
"I couldn't have done it without them, I wouldn't be here without them. There were times when I had to be brutally honest with them about how I was dealing with it mentally and they were able to help me and keep me going.
"What was tough was doing everything again for the first time and realising that you can't do it like you used to.
"But each time my attitude would be 'I can't do that – yet', always 'yet' and I told myself we'd get there and we did.
"It was always ten steps forward and 100 back, there were good days and then bad days but each bad day I would tell myself 'you're alive, you can do this' and keep going."
Aimee said it was her love of golf that helped keep her going in her darkest moments and her desire to play again despite warnings she may not be able to.
The player has represented her county since she was 19 and has played in the Irish Ladies Open, Scottish Championships, English Women's amateur open and has held a handicap of plus 2.
Aimee said: "Everyone was trying to tell me not to get my hopes up but I was determined I'd do it, I had to do it my way.
"It may sound corny but golf is a part of my soul, I absolutely love it and it kept me going. It is my sanctuary, my paradise. When I picked up a club again I cried my eyes out, I could hit the same distance – it was still there."
Darol said: "Aimee is just fantastic in how she has responded to this happening. Mentally she is as strong as ever.
"It's been a very long road and she has a way to go still but she is just inspirational. Last year she was Mendip Golf Club Ladies Champion and six weeks ago she picked up a club to defend her title and in the end only lost by one point.
"Her determination to get back to golf is remarkable but the way she has handled this has left all of us so impressed and astounded."
Aimee said she was blown away by the skill and the kindness shown to her while in hospital.
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She said: "To all the medical professionals that helped me, I would want to say thank you for giving me a chance.
"They gave me a chance of making a life. They patched me up, fixed me and stapled me back together.
"I don't know how they do what they do, but I know that they care so much for people, they really want to help. They wouldn't do it without wanting to help to see the things they do.
"I'd want to say thanks for not giving up on me, they could have said 'she's not going to make it' but they never did.
"I wasn't always easy to look after either, waking up all confused from the coma no idea whats happening but they never stopped helping me."
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