I’m not ‘Scarface’ any more: Brave boy, 14, who fell on radiator as a baby is transformed after eight operations NHS wouldn’t pay for
A boy left with horrific burns after a freak accident as a baby is winning his 13-year battle for a new face after enduring years of teasing over his injuries. Lewis Alston was just four-and-a-half months old when he slid off his mother’s bed and became stuck to a hot radiator while his child-minder was downstairs.
Doctors had to amputate his nose and he had burns to his face and chest, requiring reconstructive surgery on his eyes and mouth and months of skin grafts. But at the time NHS doctors refused to rebuild his nose until he was a teenager.
Instead hundreds of well-wishers responded to local fundraising drives to send the boy to a specialised burns unit at Shriners hospital in Boston, US.
In the meantime Lewis was mocked at school over his burns with other children running away from him and calling him: ‘Alien’ and ‘Scarface.’
Now 14, with the last visit scheduled for this year, Lewis’ new face is an amazing contrast to the heart-rending images 13 years ago.
His cause is also to be boosted with an extra £47,000 raised by a man who has been organising charity events for him since 1998.
Lewis’ mother Rachel Alston, a self-employed travel agent, 35, of Morecambe, said: ‘Seeing his face transform, get better and better over the years has been amazing. I can’t believe how much he’s changed over the years.
‘He’s had about 15 operations but he’s always had such an amazing attitude. When he was a baby in the pram I kept him facing me because people were always staring in and asking what had happened. ‘Children have run away calling him an alien and some people have been mean at high school. He’s come home telling me some boys were calling him Scarface and I told him to say, “Say hello to my little friend” and laugh it off.
‘But we’ve laughed together when someone is staring in the street and they run into something. He’s such a character and deals with it all so well. I’m very proud of him.’
Lewis was just four and a half months old at the time of the accident. His mother had been out at work and left him with a friend. But while the child minder was downstairs, Lewis rolled past the pillows meant to keep him in place on her bed and slid off, getting stuck against the radiator.
Rachel said: ‘My friend called me in hysterics and when I arrived the paramedics were already seeing to him. His face was really bloated and he was screaming. It was so hard to deal with. I nearly fainted. I remember it now like it was yesterday. I just took a step back when I saw it. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I was in shock.’
Lewis was rushed to Tameside Hospital in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester before being transferred to the Booth Hall burns unit. He had burns to both wrists, to his face and welts on his chest from the buttons on his baby grow. His nose had be amputated. Doctors took skin from his legs to put over his nose, lips and eyes.
Rachel added: ‘They kept him in hospital until Christmas eve, it was a very emotional Christmas and a few days later he had to return to hospital for weeks of more skin grafts. He was on a lot of painkillers and I was feeding him through a plastic syringe because his lips were too swollen to eat.’
She added: ‘He was bandaged up apart from his eyes then he had a clear face mask to help the skin graft grown on his skin on his face and his legs. To see him that way was so hard, but I had a lot of support from friends and family.’
At a consultation after his January discharge from hospital, Rachel learned that the NHS wouldn’t reconstruct his nose or do any cosmetic surgery until he was at least a teenager, saying he would grow out of any work they did.
‘Because he’d lost his nose they didn’t want to rebuild it until later in his life. But I didn’t want him to go through life without a nose. That’s when I looked at alternative hospitals.’
The family began fundraising to pay for a trip to the Shriners hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, which specialises in paediatric burn care.
Through local pub nights and fundraising drives the family raised tens of thousands of pounds, enough to get the family to Boston eight times over the past eleven years to receive much-needed treatments.
Separately, local nursing home owner Allen Reid, 69, began organising golf days and raffles and pasting Lewis’ face all over pubs and community centres, raising £40,000, which has grown into £47,000 with interest in a charity account. He’ll give Lewis the money on 27 May of this year in what promises to be an emotional reunion.
Rachel said: ‘He’s done a phenomenal job and Lewis will always be in his debt and grateful. Lewis’ story moved so many people and the kindness was amazing. ‘At the hospital, he’s loved by staff and there were a lot of other children that were worse off. For once everyone else looks like him and people don’t stare and he made friends.
‘Seeing his face transform get better and better over the years has been amazing. I can’t believe how much he’s changed over the years. You don’t see it because you see it every day. It’s amazing how different how he looks.’
Lewis is expecting to have more work done on his nose this year and that will be it for the major surgery.
Mr Reid of Lymm, Cheshire said: ‘I saw Lewis’s face in the paper when it orginally happened the pictures broke my heart and I wanted to help. I just thought it was so cruel to send him to school without a nose and I wanted him to get all the treatment he could. ‘I’ve not seen Lewis since 1999 and every time I saw him it broke my heart. I’m excited to see him again and it will be good closure to see the money help him get the treatment he needs.’
Outrage! Black women seen as less attractive
The hostile review below is probably the only way Kanazawa’s findings could safely be reported. The screen grab shows that Kanazawa was making a perfectly factual report:
The picture below ran with the article. Most amusing that they chose a half-white woman (Campbell) to represent blacks! And the text below the article does not at all represent what Kanazawa said. It’s a Goebbels-style misrepresentation in fact.
According to evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, Naomi Campbell is less attractive than Miranda Kerr simply because she is black
Kanazawa’s findings are in fact pretty mundane. People tend to prefer the familiar and someone brought up among whites would tend to prefer that. I am always pleased to see red-heads about the place. Would the fact that my late father was a redhead have anything to do with that?
“BLACK women are less attractive than white, Asian and Native American Women. And there’s scientific proof.”
No right thinking website would want to be associated with an article as incendiary and nonsensical as this but Psychology Today did just that this week when it published the latest blog by controversial evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa.
Kanazawa’s post, which the website has since taken down, argued that black women were less physically attractive than other women and that it has something to do with testosterone and genetic mutations.
He wrote in his regular blog, The Scientific Fundamentalist: A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature: “Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women …Because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.”
Kanazawa, who teaches at the London School of Economics, attempted to justify his theory by dressing his post up with colourful bar graphs and lots of stats.
However, the entire study appears to be based on the perspectives and opinions of adult respondents, although Kanazawa reports his findings as objective facts.
Kanazawa’s article caused a huge backlash and drew accusations that he and Psychology Today were peddling racist nonsense. At first Psychology Today tried editing the headline but then it took the post down.
The site’s editor-in-chief, Kaja Perina, did not apologise for the post but put out this statement: “Our bloggers are credential[ed] social scientists and for this reason they are invited to post to the site on topics of their choosing. We in turn reserve the right to remove posts for any number of reasons.”
Kanazawa has form. Other posts in his blog include: Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?, If Beautiful People Have Daughters, Why Do Posh and Becks Have Three Sons? and More Intelligent People Are More Likely to Binge Drink and Get Drunk.
Oppressive British bureaucrats again
Robert Tchenguiz, the Mayfair-based entrepreneur, has challenged his arrest by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) under a judicial review filed at the High Court on Tuesday.
The businessman, who made millions in the property boom leading up to the crash of 2007, has branded his arrest “unlawful, aggressive and disproportionate”. He has also accused the SFO of using his arrest as a publicity stunt to justify its continued existence.
In a statement, Mr Tchenguiz said: “My business, my family, and I personally continue to suffer losses as a result of the SFO’s unlawful, aggressive and disproportionate action. The SFO’s conduct has left me with no option but to take legal recourse in order to recover from the extensive financial and reputational damage they have caused.”
Mr Tchenguiz and his brother Vincent were arrested in separate raids on their homes and offices earlier this year. The action by the SFO related to its investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Robert Tchenguiz was a major customer and shareholder of the bank through his investment vehicle Exista.
Vincent, who filed a judicial review to challenge searches on his properties, was a customer of Kaupthing.
He has separately filed a £1.5bn lawsuit against Kaupthing relating to assets he claims the bank is holding.
Robert claims his arrest was illegal as he had previously offered to be interviewed and there was no risk of him destroying documents.
The Tchenguiz brothers were released without charge. Both deny wrongdoing.
The SFO said decisions to investigate were based on the merits of each case.
British university admissions overhaul sparks panic among markers
Plans to overhaul the university admissions system could destroy the accuracy of A-level grades, experts have warned. Pupils currently apply for university courses on the basis of the grades their teachers predict they will achieve. Under Government proposals, from 2014 they will apply after they have received their results.
Universities Minister David Willetts believes the change will help disadvantaged teenagers who are routinely predicted lower grades than they achieve.
But the plans would necessitate a far swifter marking system, and exam boards have said the only way they can do this is by increasing the use of electronic and online marking. This has prompted fears that new systems will be rushed through before the technology is thoroughly tested, possibly leading to inaccurate grades and students wrongly missing out on university places.
Last year a technical glitch in exam board AQA’s system led to the incorrect marking of thousands of papers.
David Vanstone, headmaster of fee-paying North Cestrian Grammar School in Altrincham, Cheshire, and former chairman of the Independent Schools Association, said: ‘It is wholly wrong to rush in a system that isn’t tried and tested. ‘You have to protect the integrity of the exam system to makes sure everybody has faith in it. Accuracy is more important than speed.’
Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said: ‘In principle it is an excellent idea but I would like to voice caution. In a bid for efficient marking, rigorous questions may be dropped.’ The proposal is to be included in the Higher Education White Paper.
Britain’s new era of green taxes: Climate change targets to cost every household £500 a year
Tough new climate change targets will cost every household in Britain £500 a year. The targets will usher in a new era of green taxes and soaring fuel bills for millions of cash-strapped households.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne yesterday committed the UK to a legally binding 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 in a move that will leave Britain £13.4billion-a-year worse off. The targets are the toughest of any country in the world and will come at a huge price for Britain’s struggling economy.
In contrast, the U.S. has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by only 3 per cent, while China – the world’s biggest polluter – expects its carbon dioxide emissions to rise.
Critics say the plans could have only a minuscule impact on halting climate change but could stifle economic recovery and hamper business. They will also mean higher fuel bills, hitting poorest homes the hardest.
When he attempted to counter claims that householders would face energy price increases because of the targets, Mr Huhne was only able to say that they would result in no extra cost for customers during this parliament.
The announcement of the carbon budget – the limit on emissions – comes after a bitter rift in the Cabinet between Mr Huhne and Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable, who claimed the targets would make the UK uncompetitive.
The carbon budget follows the recommendation in December of the Committee on Climate Change, an independent body of experts that advises the Government. It said the UK would need to sacrifice 1 per cent of its gross domestic product to meet the target.
At today’s prices that is the equivalent of £13.4billion a year – the money raised by increasing VAT in January – or an average of £500 for every household.
The Government will try to meet the target by raising fuel bills to pay for thousands more wind turbines to be built across the country as well as offshore. It will also have to finance a new generation of nuclear power stations.
The announcement came as it emerged that inflation had risen to 4.5 per cent – and at a time when millions are facing soaring bills, pay cuts and the risk of redundancy.
The Climate Change Act 2008 sets a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by at least 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050. It also requires the Government to set carbon budgets for consecutive five-year periods.
Carbon budgets must be set at least three budget periods in advance, and the fourth carbon budget – for 2023 to 2027 – has to be set in law by next month.
Announcing it, Mr Huhne said: ‘Under this carbon budget, Britain in 2027 will be a different place and transformed for the better with warmer homes powered by green energy, many more cars powered by electricity and far less reliance on fossil fuels to drive our economy.’
He denied that Britain was ‘going ahead’ of other countries. The new target goes far deeper than the EU which has pledged to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, or 30 per cent if the world signs a climate change deal. Mr Huhne gave the UK a get-out by promising to review the target in 2014 if Europe drags its feet.
Dr Benny Peiser, director of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, said the UK’s actions would have little impact on climate change when emissions were increasing around the world.
Energy intensive industries – such as chemicals, steel, textiles and ceramics – would be particularly badly hit by the soaring costs of gas and electricity. ‘If they go ahead with this it will severely damage the economy, it will be economic suicide,’ he said.
Adam Scorer, of the official consumer body Consumer Focus, said: ‘The need for tough action on carbon is widely accepted, but this will come at a high cost. The consequences of higher bills will clearly hit the poorest households hardest.’