Gasoline lice treatment causes freak accident

Nine year old Katerin Michel Perez, is clinging to life at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, after she suffered severe burns at her home in San Pedro Town. The child whose home is in the DFC Layout area, was badly burned in a freak accidentt around 7:30 on Good Friday night, while with her family.

Reports indicate that she was being treated for head lice with applications of gasoline to the scalp. That night, she walked too close to a lit stove and her head and upper body immediately caught fire.

A neighbour who heard the screams and ran to help, told the Reporter that when she got to the door of the home, she saw Jose Roberto Perez coming out with his daughter in his arms. “When I saw the child, 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,” the neighbour ecalled.

In their attempts to save their daughter, Jose Perez and his wife, Carolina Meza also received burns to their upper bodies. All three were rushed to the San Pedro Polyclinic and then on to the KHMH for treatment.

The tragic story of the family soon reached a network of concerned San Pedro and Belize City residents, and resulted in immediate and almost miraculous results. With facilitation by Yvette Burkes of the Burn Victim Mercy Fund, and the assistance of the US Embassy in Belize and Homeland Security, a medical visa and documentation were secured for Katerin Perez and her father over the Easter weekend. And on Monday, thanks to a generous donation, both were flown out to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston, where Katerin has been able to access highly specialized care.

Still, her condition is critical. According to Acute Burn Surgeon at the facility, Philip Chang, her injuries have been assessed “as being 53 percent TBSA (total body surface area) and almost all third degree [burns]. The burn wounds to her arms, hands, and face are especially deep and she is at significant risk of having permanent vision loss and functional loss of her hands. We will do everything we can to save her life and restore her as much as possible”, Chang said.

Meanwhile, Carolina Meza remains hospitalized at the KHMH with second degree burns to her arms and hands. Friends of the family and other concerned persons have started to raise funds to assist the family, which even in a best-case scenario, will have months of hardships ahead. Meza has three other children who are being cared for by friends on the island.

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