Sophie Collins is the first to admit she made a big mistake as a “cocky” 14-year-old – and her body bears the damage to prove it.
Ahead of Bonfire Night, the mum, now 22, has recalled the day she lost a finger when she lit a firework indoors and shared images of her prosthetic replacement, in the hopes of warning youngsters to not repeat her devastating error.
Sophie had told how she was sat on a sofa when she decided to light a firework – thinking she would be able to extinguish it in time, reports Lancs Live.
But the firework exploded and took most of the index finger on her right hand “clean off”.
The rest of her hand was mangled with a massive gaping wound with tendons and bones showing.
Skilled surgeons managed to patch up her hand but could not reattach the finger.
Now she is permanently disfigured from the catastrophic damage and, eight years on from her ordeal, left-handed Sophie is still unable to grip with her hand properly and still suffers anxiety when she hears loud noises.
Sophie, from Skelmersdale in Lancashire, said: “I was being a bit cocky thinking I could light it and put it out before it exploded.
“I was just chilling on the couch and flicked the lighter near the charge and it started fizzing so I licked my fingers and touched it to try and put it back out again.
“It obviously didn’t so I took it with my right hand and tried to stub it out on the floor and that’s when it’s gone ‘bang’.
“Within three or four seconds of me lighting the banger at home it went off and blew my finger clean off.
“I grabbed my hand and I remember seeing the palm of my hand open – you could see bone and blood.
“My mum and sister, who were both in bed at the time, heard the bang and jumped up while I lay screaming on the floor.
“My sister Natasha [Collins] found my finger on the floor but didn’t tell me because she didn’t want to upset me any more than I already was.”
Sophie bought a box of fireworks for £5 from a ‘random lad’ in the street using money she and a pal had raised from Penny for the Guy on Mischief Night 2012.
Within seconds of lighting it the banger exploded in her hand causing her to collapse to the floor in shock.
Mum Michaela Wilding, 49, wrapped Sophie’s hand in a towel and rang for an ambulance.
Sophie was rushed by ambulance to Ormskirk Hospital in Ormskirk, West Lancashire, before being transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, Merseyside.
There, Sophie underwent gruelling eight-hour surgery to her hand and when she came round she was told the devastating news that she had lost most of her index finger.
The then teenage Sophie was left with a ‘swan neck deformity’ in another finger, a bending of the joints caused by the blast, and is unable to move it due to tendon and nerve damage.
After spending years hiding her stump with bandages, Sophie now proudly wears a hyper-realistic prosthetic finger and even has a party trick, where she invites unsuspecting partygoers to pull her prosthetic finger – and it pops off.
However Sophie, who is mum to one-year-old Charlie Collins, said the whole experience was “very traumatic.”
She said: “The doctor came in the next morning after the eight-hour operation and told me it was gone, it [the blast] just blew my finger to bits.
“I don’t know what I was feeling at the beginning, I just remember thinking ‘what have I done?’ “I just cried for hours when they told me I didn’t have that finger anymore.
“It’s a big thing for a child, especially how mean kids can be with stuff like that when people are different.
“Initially I was in hospital for a week and a half but I had weekly visits for physio, dressing changes and stuff like that.
“My index finger and my thumb were completely ripped open and then the bones inside the two next to that were shattered.
“I had skin grafts on the front and back of my palm and I’ve got a screw in my index finger because it’s completely bent.
“My nerves have gone and my tendons were ripped to bits so I can’t move that at all now.”
A year after her accident Sophie was given a prosthetic finger, but felt self-conscious wearing it.
Sophie said: “I didn’t wear the prosthetic for about three years, all through school I used to just cover it with a bandage so no-one could see it.
“As I got a bit older I realised that people were going to look more at a bandage than a prosthetic and I’ve not really taken this off since.
“The kids weren’t actually mean to me, I think they were a bit more compassionate as we were a bit older by then.
“I’ve had the odd comment like ‘half a finger’ stuff like that but I’m not bothered by it.
“I use it as a party trick now and say ‘pull my finger’, I freak some people out with it.
“Their faces are a picture, it’s funny.”
Each prosthetic finger lasts around six months, and when it starts to become ‘shiny’ it means Sophie either needs a new one or the colour topping up to match her skin tone.
The full-time mum shared her story ahead of Bonfire Night to urge people to be careful around fireworks and reassure others who have to undergo amputations.
Sophie, who still undergoes regular check-ups, is urging people to exercise extreme caution.
She also wants to let people who wear prosthetics know that they’re not alone and it’s ok.
Sophie said: “The accident still haunts me now.
“I can’t be around fireworks and loud noises, if something falls it scares me, which isn’t very nice.
“I’ve got really bad anxiety from then and I don’t really like going out, especially at this time of year when fireworks are always going off.
I don’t like being anywhere near them.
“I’m sharing my story now to make people going through the same sort of thing feel a little bit better.
“You never think it would be you but it can happen to anyone, just one wrong move if you’re too close can seriously hurt you.
“In my case it could have been worse, it could have been my face, so I’m glad it was ‘just’ my hand.
“I would say to people thinking of setting off fireworks in their gardens to make sure you’ve got a big open space, maybe some protective gloves, and keep kids indoors so people don’t get hurt.”