80 operations to save her face

PHOTO: 80 operations to save her face

One day, she was an aspiring model, beauty pageant contestant and TV presenter.

The next day, her best asset - her face - was a tangled mess of burnt flesh.

On one side, Katie Piper's face had been destroyed as far as the fat layer; the only thing beyond that was bone.

Piper, now 28, was splashed with acid by her ex-boyfriend.

She thought her dreams were destroyed along with her face.

But Piper didn't give up.

She endured the pain, the stigma and even rejection, and finally emerged a beautiful, triumphant woman all over again.

She stepped into the limelight at the British TV Choice Awards, held early last week at the swanky Savoy Hotel in London.

And she showed how far she has come after three years and more than 80 operations.

She now runs the Katie Piper Foundation, which helps people living with disfigurement, Daily Mail reported.

Before the tragedy, Piper was popular, particularly with men.

Like many young adults, she lived part of her life through Facebook.

It was not unusual for her to get 80 e-mails a day, many from admirers. She ignored most of them.

Then along came martial arts enthusiast Daniel Lynch, 33.

She was instantly attracted to him.

Unknown to her, Lynch had been in jail for throwing boiling water at another man.

Their relationship quickly soured.

During a hotel stay, he viciously raped her.

But she didn't alert the police. Instead, she broke up with him.

Then came the March 2008 attack.

Lynch begged her to read an e-mail he had sent her.

Since her Internet line was down, she walked to a nearby cafe to read it.

She recalled: "I saw a man in a hooded top walking towards me. He was carrying a cup. I assumed he was a beggar, so I reached into my bag for some change. He came up close, like he was going to speak, and threw liquid (sulphuric acid) from the cup at my face.

"The pain was indescribable, but for a split second I remember thinking, 'How rude to throw coffee when I was trying to help him.' I could feel my skin and clothes burning off me."

Her eyes, mouth, tongue, gullet, arms, hands, neck and cleavage were burned - the injuries were the worst her medical team had ever seen.

Lynch, 35, was jailed for life over the attack.

Piper had to be fed through a tube in her stomach as she endured one surgical procedure after another. After being discharged from hospital in May that year, she had to wear pressure garments over her burns.

In 2009, she waived her right to anonymity and revealed the awful events that changed her life.

It was worth it. Not only because she could lead a normal life again, but also because she now helps those like her.

Piper can dream again. Only now, her world is not just her face.