Headline — 10 April 2015 — by Albert J. Ciego
Gasoline for head lice causes severe burns for girl, 9

SAN PEDRO, Thurs. Apr. 9, 2015–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.

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