Young burn victim heads home

August 18, 2008 5:47:26 PM PDT
A fire sparked by a natural gas explosion killed a woman and severely burned her four young children in Harlem last October. Now, the eldest of the kids, a 6-year-old girl, is finally getting out of the hospital. It is a remarkable tale of survival.

In a word: phenomenal. That's how doctors and therapists at St. Mary's Hospital for Children are describing Duaa al Ghaithi's recovery.

"Duaa had fairly extensive burns, somewhat more extensive than her sisters," chief medical officer Dr. Edwin Simpser said. "She had more more medical issues."

With burns over 60 percent of her tiny body, Duaa was unable to walk, talk or even eat when she arrived at the hospital. But surgery and intensive therapy has certainly changed that.

Like most any other 6-year-old, Duaa turned shy in front of all the strangers and cameras. But with some prompting, she confirmed that she likes M&M's, french fries and Spiderman.

Through a translator, her father, Rassas al Ghaithi, said he feels fortunate to be able to take his daughter home at last.

"He says he's very happy and that this is a very special day," Dr. Hadeer Adnan said. "His family will be reunited."

Duaa will need years of therapy and likely several additional surgeries. For now, because of scarring and skin grafts, she wears compression garments 23 hours a day.

Still, she has beaten the odds. And the farewell party, with its cake and a couple of gold medals, was a celebration of that accomplishment.

"She came unable to even sit at the edge of the bed and pick her head up," occupational therapist Colleen Martin said. "And six months, look at her. She's an extraordinary young woman, and really thrives with determination."

Even after Duaa leaves the hospital, St. Mary's will continue to provide homecare for her, just like it does for her three younger sisters.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Sandra Bookman

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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