A family from San Pedro is currently in Boston, Massachusetts, after their daughter, 9 year-old Katerin Michel Perez got badly burned over the Easter holiday. She ended up with burns to 53% of her body.
It happened on Good Friday, when according to the San Pedro Sun, Perez’s mother, was treating her hair for lice by applying gasoline to her scalp. The child somehow passed by a lit stove, and the fumes from the gasoline spontaneously ignited her hair and upper body. The fire was not easily put out, and the child was severely injured.
She was immediately rushed to the San Pedro PolyClinic, and then later airlifted to the KHMH. The doctors there determined that she needed specialised treatment, and that’s when concerned persons collaborated with Yvette Burks from the Burn Victim Mercy Fund to make extraordinary efforts to rush Katerin and her father to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston, where she receiving treatment tonight. The doctors there have determined that she suffered burn injuries to his arms, hands, and face, and she is at risk to have permanent vision loss, and functional loss of her hands. For all the efforts made, she will receive the treatment in the US at no cost to her family.
But while her continued survival is of the highest importance, health authorities stress that the home remedy of gasoline to cure lice is very dangerous and should not be used under any circumstances.
Fire Victim Fighting for Life
Katerin Michelle Perez
On Tuesday, we reported on seven fires, three which were arsons. But there is a more tragic case in which a young student from San Pedro was severely burnt. Tonight, nine year old Katerin Michelle Perez is fighting for her life after she was badly burned on Good Friday in what can only be classified as a terrible freak accident. It happened at around seven-thirty that night in the DFC area of the island. According to reports, Katerin was being treated for head lice with gasoline rubbed on her scalp. She walked by a lit stove and was immediately engulfed in flames. Her mother, Carolina Dominguez Mesa, and father, Roberto Perez, frantically tried to help her and both were also injured in the attempt. Today, News Five spoke to a neighbour who told us what she saw of the horrible accident.
Voice of: Miriam Zaldivar, Eyewitness
“Well I was coming out of my house. I was coming out to go into town and I heard screaming. I started to run towards their house and when I reached there I could see fire in the house through the window. I was prepared to go in the house but by the time I reached the door the fire was out already. And then I saw the dad coming out with the child. I never even recognized her until after she started talking. She was in a horrible state. It was really scary and ugly. She was already burnt. The fire was already out.”
“I know this is hard for you but would you be able to describe for us exactly what you saw when you went inside and when you saw them coming out.”
Voice of: Miriam Zaldivar
“I saw the dad holding the girl in his arms bringing her out of the house. When I looked at the child her face was completely white. All the skin was already burned off and her hair was all burned up. She kept saying Daddy daddy hurt daddy and all the skin was peeling off her back already. He was holding her out screaming help me help me…somebody take me to the doctor. And that’s when I asked my husband to bring over the truck and he brought the truck over and he put them in the truck. I saw too that the mom was burnt and I put her in the truck and took her to the polyclinic where they started getting attention immediately after.”
“Was the mother badly burned as well?”
Voice of: Miriam Zaldivar
“Yes. Her hands were bleeding. The skin from her arms were hanging off her hands already and the doctor in Belize City said that it was second degree burns that she received on the inside of her hands, and her arms have first degree burns and her face also.”
If there is any bright spot at all in the tragedy, it is that with the help of concerned and very generous persons, on Monday, young Katerin was flown out to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston. But her injuries are indeed severe, as doctors there say she suffered third-degree burns to fifty-three percent of her upper body, and if she does survive, it is unlikely that she will regain her vision or the use of her arms. While her father is with her in Boston, Katerin’s mother is receiving treatment for her own serious burns at the K.H.M.H. Friends of the family are planning a fund-raising effort to help the family this weekend in San Pedro, and if you would like to help you can contact telephone 628-3514 for more information. We’ll keep following this story for updates on Katerin.
Gasoline for head lice causes severe burns for girl, 9
Katerin Michel Perez, 9, of the DFC area of San Pedro Town, whose head was treated with gasoline to get rid of lice, suffered major burns to her body when her body was ignited by the stove in her family’s kitchen. She is presently fighting for her life at the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Doctors said that Perez suffered third-degree burns to 53% of her body, and that the injuries to her arms, hands and face are especially severe, and she is listed in a critical condition.
According to the San Pedro Sun, at about 7:30 Good Friday night, April 3, the girl’s scalp was treated with gasoline to get rid of parasites. However, when she passed near a lit stove in the kitchen, the fumes from the gasoline in the girl’s head ignited, and she was quickly engulfed in flames.
Her mother and father, who were at home, rushed to help their daughter, and the mother herself suffered burns to her body and hands. Neighbors went to help them, and they were all taken to the San Pedro Polyclinic in the vehicle of a neighbor, then they were rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), and the little girl was flown out via an air ambulance to the burn victims unit at the Shriners Children’s Hospital.
Her mother, Carolina Dominguez Meza, sustained second degree burns to the hands and face and has been admitted to the KHMH in a stable condition.
A neighbor who went to help them at the time reported that she saw the girl’s dad holding her in his arms and bringing her out of the house, and when she saw the child, she observed that her face was completely white. All the skin had already burned off, and her hair had been totally burned, and she was crying in pain. Also, the skin was peeling off her back. The father was screaming for help.
The neighbor and her husband then quickly got their truck and rushed the family to the San Pedro Polyclinic, where they were given urgent treatment.
Yvette Burke of the Burn Victims Unit Belize said that coordination was carried out with local and international agencies, and they were able to fly out Perez to the Shriners Children’s Hospital and her father was able to go along with her.
She reported that special coordination had to be carried out because of the Easter holidays, and the child did not have travel documents.
Burke said that the payment for the air ambulance was made by a generous donor, which is very rare, since air ambulance fees range from US$18,000 to US$30,000, and the payment for the bill will not have to be taken from the local Burn Victims Fund, according to the San Pedro Sun.
Neighbors and other concerned residents have planned a fundraiser that is to take place on Sunday, April 12. Monies raised will go towards assisting the family with any additional expenses. After the mother is released from the hospital, there are plans of getting her to Boston, where she can be with her child.
Anyone wanting to help or contribute to the cause can contact Miriam Zaldivar at 628-3514 or Susana Eiley at 662-2121.