Burn victim faces more surgery

Connor Rowntree with his nephew, 4 year old Layton Wilson.
Connor Rowntree with his nephew, 4 year old Layton Wilson.
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A TEENAGER who suffered horrific burns to 90 per cent of his body is preparing to undergo more gruelling surgery.

Connor Rowntree began his battle back after an accident left him on the brink of death.

After almost 100 operations and being taught how to eat, talk and walk again, he was allowed back home and has been working hard to rebuild his life.

Now the 17-year-old, who suffered the injuries when he was playing with aerosols at a pal’s house on May 17, 2009, is preparing to return to the RVI to undergo three weeks of reconstructive surgery.

“At the moment I’m just getting back to normal life really,” said Connor. “The last two years have flown by and it doesn’t seem real sometimes.

“I’m going back to hospital when I will be having a release done round my neck.

“They will take skin from under one ear right round to the other and tighten the skin at the front of my neck and the top and front of my back.”

The City of Sunderland College student will have to wear a neck collar for up to 10 months.

And he faces many more visits to the hospital as he gets older.

Connor, of Meadow Terrace, Shiney Row, said: “It’s surgery that has to be done, so I have to get on with it.

“I had the emergency surgery to save my life during the 11 months in hospital and now it’s the reconstructive surgery that I have to go through.”

Since leaving hospital, Connor has proved to be an inspiration to people across the UK, including a host of celebrities.

Last year, he used his terrifying experience to help save others lives, and teamed up with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to make a safety video that was screened in schools across the region on Bonfire Night.

It is now hoped the film will be rolled out across the UK.

And he has gone on to scoop a clutch of awards, including being crowned teen hero by pop princess Katy Perry in the first Radio 1 Teen Award in November.

And last month he met X Factor finalist Stacey Solomon, Peter Andre and Katie Piper, who was scarred for life when acid was hurled in her face, when he won a gong at the Children’s Champions Awards.

Connor’s mum Carol, 46, said: “We’ve been through all the emotions and it’s been up and down.”

Dad Neil, 45, added: “We moved into the hospital when Connor was there and we didn’t know what to expect or what his disabilities would be and what he would be capable of doing again. At one point he wasn’t expected to survive.

“We’d all like to thank everyone for all of their support all the way through.”