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TV special reveals burns victim's true courage

A DUBLIN woman who suffered 70pc burns is set to tell her story to acid attack model Katie Piper.

Emily Savage (25) wrote to Katie when she read about how the determined model was coping after her boyfriend arranged for acid to be thrown in her face.

The Dubliner's story will feature as part of Piper's new series -- Katie: My Beautiful Friends -- which begins tonight.

The year before her First Communion, Emily was herself burned severely when she was caught up in a house fire on a family holiday.

A fire broke out in the room where Emily and her brother were staying. Emily was trapped under molten ceiling tiles for several minutes in the French holiday home.

As a child, she spent four months in a French hospital and was one of the first Irish patients to use a plastic facemask to help smooth the scarring on her face.

Emily, who has now had countless skin grafts over her body, said that she encounters prejudice every day but she bravely faces down ignorant people.

"I shouldn't have to make excuses for other people," Emily said.

"You have to become a tougher person -- you just have to make sure it doesn't make you not a nice person -- but it does totally toughen you up."

The determined young woman continued with her education and graduated with a law degree and a masters along with an internship in Washington under her belt.

But she said that she still finds it difficult to get work.

And Emily spoke out against celebrities who complain about maintaining their beautiful looks.

"It really annoyed me when Katherine Jenkins came out and said it was very difficult being beautiful because people don't take her seriously," Emily said.

"Like I am going to feel sorry for Katherine Jenkins. Get over it. Would she prefer to look like me? Does she want to swap lives?"

Top permanent cosmetics artist Karen Betts worked with Emily, using an intricate lip procedure similar to Katie's.

The system uses permanent cosmetics to give the entire lip area a new and more defined shape, redesigning the lips with clever shading techniques.

When Emily saw Katie's first documentary she wanted to warn her that after just two years in to living with scars, she has little idea of the discrimination that lies ahead of her. She wrote to Katie to tell her what she can expect and to offer her help as a longer-term burns survivor.

Cameras in tonight's episode on the Channel 4 documentary follow the young Dubliner as she battles to secure her dream job in an ever-toughening market.

Katie has embarked on a campaign to talk to people with facial disfigurement about their daily battle for acceptance in the programme.

clairemurphy@herald.ie