On November 4, 2016, Brittany had dressed her three kids and was ready to head out the door when she ran upstairs to grab a hair elastic. She had stopped to use the washroom when she heard her youngest son, Elias, screaming. She rushed downstairs and found he had climbed up a stool and ended up in the sink. It seems he bumped the tap lever and because the family’s hot water tank is directly below the sink and the dishwasher was running, hot water was quick to spew out of the onto little Elias. Brittany stripped him down and hurriedly got him into a bathtub of cold water. Her husband, who was in the garage rushed in to help as she called 911.
Despite being on painkillers in the ambulance, Elias was hysterical all the way to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. When they arrived, he was hooked up to an IV and put on more medications to control his pain. The plastics team, headed by pediatric plastic surgeon and chief of surgery Dr. Frankie Fraulin, put Elias into a dissociative state and removed his burned skin, which spanned part of his back, abdomen, both of his thighs and one of his hands. He had suffered 2nd degree burns to about 30% of his body. He was wrapped in bandages and every three days, he had to be put under anesthetic to have to dressing changed. After about a week, the team could see that the burn had worsened and thickened, so Elias would require skin grafting. Dr. Fraulin and his team were able to harvest health skin from parts of Elias’ back and sides to replace the burned skin over the course of two surgeries.
The family got to know physiotherapist Doug Baron, who took over dressing changes, as well as Karen in occupational therapy, who helped teach Brittany and Casey how to care for the burns. Thanks in part to the fact Brittany is an oncology nurse at the Children’s and could manage Elias’ care, the family was discharged after one month. She and Casey were responsible for dressing changes twice a day, cleaning the burns, washing off dead skin and applying the correct ointments.
Elias now has special compression garments that he will wear under his clothes for two years to keep scar tissue from growing. He has to be moisturized twice a day and he still comes to the hospital 1-2 times a month for follow up. Brittany says she is so grateful to have access to the amazing Alberta Children’s Hospital. It was surreal coming to her place of work as a parent, but she had great confidence that Elias was in the best hands possible and she says the team here made their experience the best it could possibly be.
To hear more stories like this or to donate to the 2017 Caring for Kids Radiothon in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation visit www.KidsRadiothon.com