When an aspiring child actress suffers a facial injury it could spell the end of a burgeoning career. This might have been the case when five-year-old Alena Hughes fell and gashed her forehead on a stone step at her Doncaster home. Her mum, Victoria, had to make some quick decisions to ensure Alena not only received medical attention but also to ensure she received the best possible treatment to minimise scarring.
"It’s every parent’s worse nightmare to see their child injured"
Victoria Hughes, mother
“It’s every parent’s worse nightmare to see their child injured,” said Mrs Hughes. “We rushed Alena straight to our local hospital where the wound was taped. They suggested we could have work done to correct the scar when she was a teenager if necessary. This was not an option, because it was vital to avoid, or at least minimise, her chance of scarring to help restore her confidence so that she could continue to enjoy her acting.”
That’s why Mrs Hughes took her daughter to see Professor Simon Kay, consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital, named as one of ‘Britain’s Top Surgeons’ in The Times Magazine. Professor Kay saw Alena the morning after the accident and she was taken to the operating theatre immediately.
“In terms of getting a good result it’s vital that she came to see me as soon as possible after the accident. We like to see patients immediately, but certainly within 24 hours to help avoid infection, which could result in scarring.” said Profesor Kay.
In Alena’s case it was even more important for her to receive treatment quickly. She has Type 1 Diabetes, which makes her more liable to wound infection. Alena was anaesthetised before Professor Kay opened and cleaned the two inches wide wound. “Alena’s eyebrow had been pushed into the bone, and there was grit and hair in the wound, which means that it would probably have resulted in scarring and a cyst forming,” explained Professor Kay. He then repaired the muscle and used two layers of stitches to repair the skin. The stitches were hidden within the eyebrow using a special weaving technique to avoid injury to the hair follicles.
Alena, who attends Stage 84 Yorkshire School of Performing Arts, loves to sing, dance and act and is a regular on stage at theatres such as Bradford’s Alhambra. Just a few days after the stitches were removed she returned to the stage for a performance of Footloose and then started rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast. She also took part in a performance of Peter Pan at the Alhambra in October 2012.
Commenting after her treatment, Alena said, "A huge thank you to all who helped me get better at Spire, especially to my hero Professor Kay for mending my head and not leaving an horrendous scar, no one can even tell I had a head injury, you are the greatest surgeon in the world! Thanks to Prof, I can continue to look forward to becoming an Actress, Singer, Showjumper and Surgeon!”