Brave Jessica (15) faces more surgeries a year after aerosol explosion
A 15-year-old girl who suffered horrendous burns in a gas explosion a year ago is facing more surgeries and still has to wear a mask 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Jessica Woods and three pals, who were all aged between 12 and 14, received shocking burns in the flash explosion at a house in Drogheda on August 3 last year. But Jessica's were to prove the worst.
"Jessica has had 24 surgeries at this stage and doctors are concentrating on her hands at the moment, they still have to focus on her face but that will happen with time," said Jessica's mother Triona.
"She will have more surgery next month but still has to wear a mask 24/7, which is breaking her heart," she added.
Jessica, from St Finian's Park in Drogheda, was rushed to hospital after the blast and initially placed on a ventilator and in an induced coma.
She suffered severe burns to her face, head, neck, back and hands.
After months of painful surgery and skin grafts, and learning to eat and walk again, Jessica was finally allowed home from hospital just before Christmas.
Through the Herald, Jessica issued a stark warning to teens everywhere to stay away from aerosol cans.
"One flick of a lighter ruined my life and changed it forever," she said.
"I was spraying the cans in the bedroom of the house. I had heard you can get a buzz from it, but I didn't know the dangers of the gas filling up the room," she added.
The other three girls were in a corner of the room.
"Then I went to light a cigarette, there was a massive flash and a ball of blue and purple flame started spinning in the middle of the room. It sucked the gas from one can in one corner and it shot across to the far wall," she remembered.
"The flames were flying around the room for about five seconds but it seemed like forever, I put my hands up to cover my face and there was a bang that blew the door off its hinges," she added.
"I was in shock and didn't know what had happened. I knew my clothes were burned and we ran from the room down to the garden, and then I remember just pulling all the burned skin from my arms," Jessica said.
"Then the girls were looking at me and one said 'Jess, your face' and I didn't know what they were talking about. I looked and saw my reflection in the glass of the window. My skin was all gone."
Now a year later Jessica is making slow progress.
"There is an improvement, she can make more of a fist, but she still can't straighten her fingers, but her hearing has dropped and she will need hearing aids, new gloves and new masks," said Triona.
"Some of her friends have gone this way and that way and she finds herself on her own, so it is mainly family keeping her together and she still needs counselling," she added.