Swansea Professor awarded OBE by the Queen

A Swansea University professor who specialises in burns and plastic surgery has received an OBE from the Queen for his work in global burn care and prevention.

Professor Tom PotokarProfessor Tom Potokar of the Centre for Global Burn Injury Policy & Research based at the College of Human and Health Sciences, also is a surgeon at the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery at Morriston Hospital and runs the  Interburns charity, which is an international network for training, education and research in burns.

Professor Potokar who was awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List, has now been presented with his award at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. He was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Dominique, a qualified burns nurse and his two children Arthur and Alex.

He said: “It was very rewarding to have been recognised in this way for the work I have done in global burn care and prevention over the last 10-15 years, however, it must also be remembered that there are many people from around the world that have contributed to this work in countries as diverse as Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Ghana, Ethiopia and Palestine.

“I am also very happy that this has come at a time when we are launching the new Centre for Global Burn Injury Policy & Research at Swansea University, which will I hope cement further Swansea as a real hub for improving global burn care and prevention through a combination of education, training, capacity building, and implementation focussed research.

“It was also a wonderful experience for my wife Dominique and two children Arthur and Alex to experience the pomp and ceremony of attending the investiture at Buckingham Palace, from the thrill of driving through the front gates and seeing the Queen close up!”

Professor Potokar’s role at the Centre for Global Burn Injury Policy & Research centres on:-

  • supporting quality research, teaching and strategy development to deliver real change in the management of burns patients globally
  • working across disciplines and translational research and teaching
  • bringing together researchers, clinicians, government, policy makers and the citizen
  • linking and contributing to the national and international burns strategies being developed by global governments

As director a of  Interburns Professor Potokar brings together an international volunteer network of expert health care professionals who deliver high quality training, education and research at minimal cost which over the last decade has trained over 3,000 health care professionals to provide good quality care to burns patients.

Professor Potokar also is a hands-on charity fundraiser. In October 2014 he, his wife and children joined fellow plastic surgeon and Interburns team member Sian Falder from Alderhey Childrens Hospital and her family on a 1200 mile sponsored motorcycle trip from Kathmandu, Nepal to Dhaka, Bangladesh to increase awareness about burn injuries which raised nearly £40,000 for Interburns.

A documentary film entitled K2Dabout the journey was made by Llanelli film company Geek Media.

View the trailer here

Burns - key facts

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described burns as the forgotten global public health crisis
  • Worldwide nearly 11 million people each year suffering burns severe enough to require medical attention, whereas burn prevention programmes training and burn care services are under-resourced.
  • 95% of burns occur in low and middle income countries and 70% of these injuries affect children (WHO 2011)
  • The best burn centres in high income countries can save burn patients with burns over 90% of the body’s surface area, while in low and middle income countries deeper burns of over 40% are almost invariably fatal.
  • Nearly four million women in low income countries are severely burnt each year, a similar number to those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.
  • The global epicentre of burns injuries is South-East Asia; in this region, three times as many women are burnt than contract HIV and AIDS. Burns in India are one of the commonest cause of death of women between 15-30 years (The Lancet 2009).
  • Fire-related burns are the sixth leading cause of death among 5–14 year olds. Burns are in the top five causes of injury that impact child mortality and morbidity and after the age of five, and injuries are the biggest threat to a child’s survival (WHO / UNICEF 2008).