Burns victim urges caution at barbecues

A nurse who received life- threatening burns at a garden party to celebrate a child’s Confirmation has pleaded with people to be vigilant with barbecues.

Joanne McMahon spent 131 days in the burns unit at St James’s Hospital in Dublin after being engulfed in flames when she lit a bain marie food warmer at a celebration in May 2014.

She was initially airlifted from Limerick to University Hospital Cork and then transferred to St James’s Hospital, where she spent months in an induced coma.

Moher of five Joanne, who lives in Castlemahon with her husband Mike, said yesterday: “I know people are now having barbecues and using bain maries. But I would ask that every care and precaution is taken as you are dealing with naked flame and fire is uncompromising.

“Where there is flame, you always have to be vigilant as serious dangers lurk. These are situations different to what you are used to, you need to be aware of that.”

Since the accident, Joanne has undergone numerous major surgical procedures and skin grants.

The home help nursing supervisor with the HSE said: “ I have come a long way, but there is a long, long way to go and I’m taking it one step at a time. I think anyone in the situation I am in has just to get on with it and that is all.”

Recently, Joanne achieved another major goal when she got back behind the wheel of her car. She said: “I am back driving, I have had to learn to eat, learn to swallow, learn to walk. I am back with my family doing the everyday household things any mother has to do. My next big objective is to get back to work with my nursing colleagues and that is a huge motivation. That is my goal and it’s just a matter of taking it one step at the time.”

The Joanne McMahon Thanksgiving Fund has raised more than €120,000.

Liam Woulfe, a friend of the family who heads the fund, said: “The fund has raised over 131 days since last December, the number of days Joanne was in St James and we will present the money to St James’s at an event in Castlemahon on June 10.“

Mike, who runs a plant hire business, said the family were overwhelmed by the support they have received.

Joanne was selected as the Southern/Clarion Hotel/Limerick Leader person of the month for May.


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