In September 2011, Turia Pitt, a beautiful 25-year-old mining engineer working her dream job in the far north of Western Australia, entered an ultra-marathon race that would change her life forever. Trapped by a fire in a gorge in the remote Kimberly region, Turia and five other competitors had nowhere to run. Turia escaped with catastrophic burns to 65 per cent of her body.
With too little unburned skin left for skin grafts, Turia was put in an induced coma in the Burns Unit at Sydney’s Concord Hospital while her body fought life-threatening infections and her surgeons imported skin from California. She lost the fingers on her right hand and her fingers on her left are partially fused together. She needed a new nose. There have been numerous operation, yet there are many more to come.
While the story of Turia’s survival involves many people – other race competitors, her rescuers, medical professionals – at its core is the strong will of Turia herself as she continues the long rehabilitation process with the loving support of her partner, Michael Hoskin, and that of their families in their New South Wales south coast hometown of Ulladulla, where the local community has rallied, raising funds to help with huge medical bills.
Everything to Live For is also a love story. Michael, Turia’s handsome teenage crush who became the love of her life, now cares for her as they plan a new life together; he is there to encourage Turia in her determination to move forward in an outwardly different body.
The real tragedy of this story is that it should never have happened – because the race should never have happened.
After that fateful day in September 2011, battle upon battle followed: first to survive, next to adapt to what was left of her skin, her face, the loss of fingers, daily therapy, endless operations, and for justice. Because the race should never have happened and Turia’s fight with the race organisers is still ongoing.
Despite facing a future with multiple challenges, Turia is optimistic. She is driving again and studying for her Master’s degree. She is walking in marathons and would one day like to run again.
Above all, she wants her story to make a difference: her mission is to make skin a more prominent organ in the repertoire of donated organs.
It is a miracle Turia lived when she was expected to die. But Turia was not ready to die – she had too much to live for.