Bella was 4 years old when she was seriously burned by a pan of boiling water

In February 2020, Bella (aged 4 at the time) was seriously scalded when she pulled a pan of boiling water over herself, here Bella’s mum recounts the devastating moments after the accident took place and what Bella and her family have been through since…

Here is Bella, aged 6. You will notice her beautiful blue eyes and also her nasty scarring.  I want to raise awareness for burn injuries.  It is so easy to think “Oh it would never happen to us” and that is exactly what we thought.  Bella is a very sensible little girl. She very much knows what is right or wrong.  She had never made any attempts to go near our oven/hob until the 29th February 2020.

On this day I was home alone with Bella and her baby sister Elsie and was preparing their lunch which was pasta. For some reason which we will never understand, Bella grabbed the pan of boiling water from the back of the hob when I turned my back for a few seconds.  I was suddenly met with her pained screams and I wasn’t immediately sure what had happened.  She couldn’t get any words out and was just screaming and pulling at the front of her dress. It was then that I noticed the pan of boiling water on the floor and realised what had happened.  Pure panic hit me like I have never experienced before.  I knew I had to act fast. I took her clothes off and already her skin was falling off. I found super strength to race her upstairs into the bath.  I had to leave her baby sister downstairs as I had no choice. I showered her with cold water and her skin just kept peeling off before my eyes. It still took me a minute to realise this was serious and required urgent help. I dialled 999 and the most wonderful paramedics arrived within 10 minutes, followed by an ambulance 10 minutes after.

Bella’s screams for help and the shivering from being so cold will forever haunt me. The paramedics took control and dosed her up on morphine and paracetamol to help control the pain.  They wrapped her up in cling film and put a hat on her to help her to warm up. She was then blue lighted to Southampton hospital to be assessed. I had showered her with cold water for 15 minutes, but as the guidelines had recently changed to 20 minutes, poor Bella had to be showered again to ensure she had the adequate time of cooling.  She then had to have the burn scrubbed so that all the dead skin was scrubbed away.  Luckily, some gas and air helped her to get through this.  She was then sent on to Salisbury hospital who specialise in burns. She ended up staying for 3 days before returning home.

On her return home she wasn’t herself and by the evening she had intense itching and cried for hours.  We ended up taking her back to hospital where they noticed she had signs of toxic shock syndrome.  She was covered in a rash, had a temperature, had crazy itching and her body was all puffy.  They pumped her full of antibiotics, put her on a drip, gave her a feeding tube (burn patients need a lot of calories to help with the healing process) and she had a procedure under general anaesthetic to give the burn a deep clean using a high-powered water jet.  She ended up staying in hospital for another 4 days and came home the day before her 5th birthday. Sadly she missed a special trip to Disneyland Paris and also her birthday party.

Her journey didn’t end there as she had to go back for numerous dressing changes. At every dressing change she had to be held down and even on morphine she was in so much pain.  What an awful ordeal for such a tiny human.

Never did I imagine going through anything as traumatic as seeing my little girl in such an awful state. 18 months on and we talk about her burn daily and make her realise it doesn’t need to be something to hide. She likes to show her scars off to her friends and other adults. She has also spoken out about her burn injury and what to do in the event of a burn at school on National Burn awareness day 2020 and at a First Aid Day. At the moment it doesn’t bother her but down the line the scarring may become an issue. She has some nasty scarring which will never go back to normal.

She has now had 3 rounds of laser surgery under general anaesthetic and steroid injections.  Unfortunately, there have been many delays due to covid which has impacted her treatment and delayed her recovery.  She will continue to have this treatment every 12 weeks.  So far, the treatment has not had the desired effect, and the consultant is disappointed with the results.  This is due to her scarring still being very active and fighting against the treatment.  We will carry on in the hope it has the desired effect in the future.

When you are cooking, boiling a kettle, holding a mug of tea – please think of Bella and be just that little bit more cautious.  A mug of tea that has been on the side for 20 minutes is still hot enough to cause serious burns to a child. If ever you experience serious burns do not hesitate – Cool the burn in tepid (not freezing cold) water for 20 minutes.  Call 999 then Cover the burn in cling film.

I hope that our story will help at least one person to avoid such a horrendous journey.

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