The West

Blast survivor so inspiring
Burns specialist Dr Fiona Wood with Bali survivor Phil Britten. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

Burns surgeon Fiona Wood choked back tears yesterday as she described how watching Bali bombings survivor Phil Britten had inspired her to continue her work.

Speaking at the launch of Mr Britten's book Undefeated as part of _The West Australian's _events program, Dr Wood said seeing his vibrancy of life and resilience of human spirit a decade after he became one of her patients was inspirational.

"I've watched Phil over these last 10 years from afar," she said.

"He's found true love, that's obvious, with your work outreaching to everybody who you can help.

"It's inspirational. It keeps people like me at the table, working to make sure we learn everything we can today so tomorrow will be better."

Dr Wood said she remembered walking into the room when Mr Britten was first transferred to Royal Perth Hospital three weeks after the bombings. His teeth had been smashed in the blast.

"Clearly inside that bed was a handsome, fit, dynamic young kid and what he looked like was a sad old man," she said.

"I said, 'Would someone please give that boy some teeth because he needs to feel and look better. He needs to be able to look himself in the mirror'."

An emotional Mr Britten thanked Dr Wood for helping him on the "long, hard road" of his recovery.

"A burn itself is very excruciating," he said. "The injury that you sustain is terrible.

Phil Britten at the book launch. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

"But the recovery is probably 10 times worse and you actually think that there's no end or no light at the end of the tunnel.

"One person in particular who gives you that light is Dr Fiona Wood. She's an amazing person. She turns victims into survivors and she's done that with me."

Dr Wood recalled going to an Eagles game with Mr Britten when he was so itchy he could not sit still.

She realised she had to do something about it.

"As a result of that we've done, lots of research and work and I'm glad to say not as many people have the same kind of itch," she said.

Mr Britten said the bombings changed his life for ever and he felt the attack proved anything could happen at any time.

"We really have to try and take every opportunity that we can in life because accidents, tragedies are happening all around us," he said. "If we let that happen to us before we have that breakthrough or that light bulb moment then we aren't living life, we're just walking through it."

The West Australian

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