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Afterburn  |  Wednesday 23 November 2016 10:50

Afterburn Broadcast date: 23 NOVEMBER 2016 on SABC 3 at 21:30

A Special Assignment story.
This week Special Assignment presents Afterburn – the story that earned Producer Hazel Friedman and cameramen Marc Mullenberg and Pieter Brewis the National TV feature category for the 2016 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.  Afterburn is a remarkable story of suffering, selflessness, healing and hope, narrated through the experience of a young burn survivor.

In 2012 Michelle Motibi suffered third degree burns to 86 percent of her body after a shack she was locked inside caught fire. She was given almost no chance of survival.  But 5-year old Michelle was not ready to die. As she stubbornly clung to life in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, in Cape Town’s affluent southern suburbs fifteen-year old Andrew Meddick died suddenly from viral encephyltis. He was an organ donor but the only organ unaffected by the fatal virus was his skin, which his mother, Shelley Mackay-Davidson, donated to the tiny burn survivor. Michelle was saved by Andrew’s skin that served as a temporary ‘bandage’ to cover her little body while her burns healed. His death gave her the gift of life. But his mother’s generosity did not end there. She has since formed a powerful bond with Michelle, who is now a bright feisty 9-year old living at St Joseph’s Home for chronically ill children.

The challenges facing Motibi remain daunting. In South Africa burns are one of the major causes of death and injury to children. And it is the poor living on the urban fringes who are the most severely affected. For example, 98% of the children treated for burns at Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital, are from disadvantaged communities, many of them from backyard shacks and informal settlements. At the time of broadcasting this story in 2015, South Africa did not have a skin bank.  But due to the passionate efforts of doctors and NGOs, not to mention the widespread positive response to ‘Afterburn’, South Africa now has a skin bank that, in the case of serious burn injuries, makes the difference between life and death.

Watch AFTERBURN produced by Hazel Friedman for Special Assignment, Wednesday at 21h30 on SABC 3
For more information contact: The Special Assignment office: 011 714 5419


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