Model Overcomes Pain of Brutal Acid Attack

Burned British model Katie Piper overcomes pain of hideous acid attack.

ByABC News
January 8, 2010, 3:42 PM

Jan. 8, 2010— -- Seven weeks after a vicious sulfuric acid attack, Katie Piper readied for her release from the hospital. The 26-year-old former model and aspiring television presenter was burned beyond recognition when a man threw acid in her face on a London street in March 2008.

With nearly 30 reconstructive surgeries behind her, psychological hurdles remained. Piper hadn't seen a mirror since the day she was assaulted.

"I remember I had no eyelids and it was just the actual eyeballs round -- all exposed, and...[I] had no nose," Piper said. "It was was so difficult, so alien."

"She looked at [her face] and burst into tears," said her father, David Piper. "And she looked at me and said, 'It's not me. It's not the face I was born with.'"

Click here for full coverage of Katie Piper's story

In shock, Piper asked for a moment alone before the ride to her family's home in Andover, England.

"I was alone in the room. And I was praying and I was talking to God and I knew God had a plan for me, I knew he was taking me on a journey," she said. "And I decided how hard it was going to get, I was going to keep on that journey."

Piper's road to recovery was long and filled with many more trips to the hospital. At home, she was forced to wear a plastic mask 23 hours a day to help her wounds heal.

The attack had stolen her identity and crushed her spirit. "I've never been like this where there's no point in waking up," she said.

Piper's mother, Diane Piper, quit her job to focus on her daughter's care.

"I thought, 'Well, I'll have to give up work. Kate won't want to go anywhere. She won't want to be seen by anybody. She'll become a recluse. I will give up my life; I will stay at home with her,' And that was the future. An empty future," she said.

But even after a marathon of reconstructive surgeries and Piper settled in at home, the fear did not wear off. She was terrified of anyone approaching the house. Even the doorbell was immobilizing.

"It was like having a child again, instead of having a woman," her father said. "If somebody dropped a tray, she would nearly come off the bed. ...She was so frightened of men, generally, and just anything that was scary. And she had terrible days of, you know, hallucinations."

Click here to see photos of Katie Piper before the attack and through her miraculous recovery